Buhari breaks with tradition, names southerner as hajj chairman
President Muhammadu Buhari has nominated Zikrullah Olakunle Hassan as the chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
If confirmed by the senate as expected, Hassan, from Osun state, will be the first southerner to head the commission since it was set up 13 years ago by former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
The position had been thought to be permanently zoned to the north.
The first chairman was Muhammed Musa Bello, from Adamawa state, who was inaugurated in May 2007 for a term of four years.
In 2011, former president Goodluck Jonathan reappointed him for a second term, which expired in 2015 — after which Bello was appointed FCT minister by Buhari.
Abdullahi Mukhtar Mohammed, from Kaduna state, has been acting as chairman since 2015.
Hassan’s name was sent to the senate on Tuesday alongside those of other executive commissioners: Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa (operation, inspection and licensing) from Bauchi, north-east; Nura Hassan Yakasai (policy, personnel management and finance), Kano, north-west; and Sheikh Momoh Suleman Imonikhe (planning, research, statistics information and library), Edo, south-south).
Part-time members are Halimat Jibril (Niger), Abbas Jato (Borno), Garba Umar (Sokoto), Ibrahim Ogbonnah Amah (Ebonyi), Sadiq Oniyesaneyene Musa (Delta) and Akintunde Basirat Olayinka (Ogun).
Representatives of ministries, departments and agencies are Shehu Dogo (aviation), Nura Abba Rimi (foreign affairs), Rabi Bello Isa (finance, budget and national planning), Zainab Ujudud Sheriff (health), Aminu Bako Yarima (Nigeria Immigration Service) and Ibrahim Ishaq Nuhu (Central Bank of Nigeria).
Hassan served as amir-al-hajj (leader of pilgrims) of Osun Pilgrims’ Welfare Board in the past.