NAHCON To Sanitise Media Coverage Of Hajj Operation
Alhaji Abdullahi Muhammad, Executive Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), says the commission will accredit journalists covering annual pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia to sanitise Hajj reporting.
Muhammad disclosed this at the public presentation of Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR) news website and awards ceremony on Thursday in Abuja.
The NAHCON chairman decried the current situation whereby journalists who are sponsored by various State Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards and Agencies sometimes work at cross purposes.
According to him, the commission intends to select journalists that would report Hajj and train them on the intricacies of covering the religious rites.
“If FIFA has to accredit journalists that report the World Cup, it is absolutely necessary for the commission to accredit journalists that should cover Hajj,’’ he said.
Muhammad explained that there were complains that “many reports endanger the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia which some journalists may not be aware of’’.
The chairman advised journalists deployed for exercise to report strictly on Hajj matters if they go to the Holy land and should desist from reporting issues that have diplomatic implications.
Muhammad commended IHR for pioneering the first website in the world that is dedicated to Hajj and Umrah, hoping that the news portal would provide credible information that would counter misinformation about pilgrimage.
He, therefore, urged the Muslim Ummah to assist IHR financially and materially to succeed.
“IHR deserves financial and material support as well as support in terms of ideas from Muslims,’’ he said.
The chairman also advised the organisation to open its doors to external ideas.
“Although you are the initiators of the news platform but ideas can come from anywhere. Don’t claim ownership of the website because it is for the Muslim Ummah at large,’’ Muhammad said.
Similarly, he enjoined IHR not to delve into the politics and economics of Hajj affairs, but stick strictly on Hajj management.
According to him, a lot of the “misinformation on Hajj is concocted from the politics of hajj’’.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Sen. Bala Ibn Na’ Allah commended IHR’s initiative, saying the effort will be rewarding even in the hereafter.
The lawmaker said that although there was a remarkable improvement in the management of Hajj, the website should criticise where necessary.
Na’Allah recalled that there was a lot of deliberate misinformation that was reported in the media on Hajj exercise which the website should try and correct.
The National Coordinator, IHR, Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammad, said that the decision to set up www.hajjreporters.com arose from the need to create a platform that would aggregate all important Hajj-related information.
“This will serve as a knowledge-sharing platform for all stakeholders,’’ he said.
According to him, the event is not just to launch the website but to appreciate those who contributed to the rise of Hajj administration.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Alhaji Saidu Barda, first civilian governor of Katsina State; former Military Gov. of Kano State, Col. Ahmed Daku, and Federal Capital Territory Minister Muhammad Bello, were given Life Time awards for their contributions to Hajj affairs.
Similarly, Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno State, who bagged a Special Recognition award for his commitment to Hajj in spite of the security challenges in Borno, donated N2 million to IHR.
The Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Board got the overall prize amongst State Pilgrim Boards, while Kaduna State got the award for the best in enlightenment and mobilisation. (NAN)