The high cost involved in the pilgrimage to Mecca on an annual basis has hindered many in the Muslim communities from embarking on this all-important pilgrimage.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) however brought light back into the eyes of the Muslim community at their manifesto launch when they pledged to make the Hajj trip affordable for all pilgrims.
With most people misinterpreting this pledge to mean the NDC government will pay for the pilgrimage, the party’s manifesto spokesperson on issues of Zongo and Muslim Affairs has taken time to explain the policy for all. “Government getting involved doesn’t mean we will pay,” he said.
In an interview with Happy 98.9 FM’s Afrifa-Mensah, Baba Jamal indicated that the government can make the pilgrimage to Mecca more affordable in other ways other than footing the bills of pilgrims.
He noted that the pilgrimage is government business because the Saudi Arabian government gives quotas to all participating countries because over three (3) million people worldwide participate in the Hajj annually. Baba Jamal noted that the government involvement cuts down costs and stress for pilgrims making it affordable.
“There is always the Hajj conference where each country is given a quota to aid the Saudi embassy in issuing visas and controlling the rush into their country. The Hajj body is under the presidency and before one must participate, she or he must meet certain conditions. And this is why the government has to get involved.”
The former Member of Parliament for Akwatia mentioned that the NDC will put in place various measures to reduce the cost of Hajj for the Muslim community.
“There are things we will do to reduce the cost of Hajj when we come to power. We can charter planes for those leaving Ghana and this will cost less. But the country will support them financially when there is a crisis,” he stated.
The politician opined that left to his devices, he would establish an independent Hajj authority which will handle the affairs of pilgrims and in the long run, earn and contribute towards the nation’s development.