The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has called on interested investors to partner it in turning around its multimillion-naira Hajj Camp at Akowonjo in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.
The Lagos State government has proposed to rebrand the dilapidated hajj camp into an international Islamic school for the state.
Dhikrulahi Kunle Hassan, national chairman, NAHCON, said in Lagos during the inspection of the facility that partnering with purposeful investors would help to turn around the fortune of the camp, which had not been in use in recent times.
The facility used to house would-be pilgrims of the South West for some days before they were moved to the hajji and cargo terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and later departed to Saudi Arabia.
Hassan was in the company of some board members of the commission and Anofiu Elegushi, commissioner for home affairs, Lagos State, Uzamat Yusuf, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism and Mubarak Waheed, Lagos Zonal Coordinator, NAHCON.
According to Hassan, the commission intended to go into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with interested private investors to upgrade the facilities and put them into proper use.
He assured that the property would be renovated and put to use under his management.
He said: “I am here with some of our staff and board members and board to take a look at the Hajj camp facilities in Lagos and to see ongoing work and to also see what we can make of it for the benefits of Muslims in Lagos in particular and in Nigeria in general.
“The project has been ongoing for quite a number of years, it has been restated and abandoned and not used for the purpose it was built. My own management is to ensure that the project is put into use, so that in the next few months, it would be opened to the Nigerian public and Muslims in Lagos state.
“We are going to invite business people who can do PPP arrangement with us and see what they can turn into and both of us can share the proceeds at a mutually acceptable agreement. Investors should come and look at it and see what they can turn it to provided it is something that will be ethical that is not contrary to Islamic ethics.
“It is going to be a long term, anybody who is going to come here will look at the facilities to spend his money here as well, it is going to be a long term but will be fairly good for all of us.”
Also speaking, Elegushi said the property had been abandoned for about 20 years, adding that the management of NAHCON was now willing to reactivate activities within the camp.
“As you can see, the Chairman of NAHCON is here to inspect this site. This site was the former Hajj Camp where the pilgrims stayed before going to the airport for Hajj. Gone are the days when they will spend days with their families before travelling to Mecca.
“But, now we have perfect schedules if you are traveling to Mecca now, the time is just like 10 to 15 hours, and moving them from here to the airport was difficult because of traffic so this was the reason this place was abandoned for almost 20 years. The chairman is now looking at using this place again, if not for that purpose but for a related purpose”, he said.
He noted that though NAHCON may be proposing other ventures like Event centre, but the Lagos State government was willing to convert the place to an International Islamic School where people could be awarded degrees, rather than travelling abroad for such a purpose.
“We can’t just leave this place wasting away, they have the intention of putting up an event centre, but from our own submission as the State government, we are of the opinion that this place can be converted to International Islamic school where people can get quality Islamic studies, we are looking at getting affiliation of some International Islamic school for Adults so that people can get their degree here rather than going to Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
“Also, the people of Alimosho are intending to use it as an Isolation centre, they have renovated some places here to be used as an Isolation center to capture the people in the area. That is also on a temporary basis, after which the property will be returned back to NAHCON who is the original owner and we will look at converting it to something that will be of greatest benefit to our people.
“The chairman has thought of reactivating the site and they have started the process and some renovation works are going on”, he added.