This Year's Hajj Must Be Problem-Free - President
President John Agyekum Kufuor last Saturday called for an end to the annual ritual of poor organisation of the Hajj, resulting from bad planning and the pursuit of parochial self-interest on the part of some members of the Hajj Committee.
'For this year's pilgrimage, I demand that those entrusted with this onerous responsibility discharge their duties honourably and efficiently,' he said.
They should not be enticed by lucre or a sense of profit from the transactions, he said, when he joined the country's Muslims at the national celebration of the Eid-ul-Fitr, the end of the month-long Ramadan fast, at the Independence Square in Accra. Among those present at the large gathering was Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
President Kufuor said the Hajj was an important pillar of Islam and that frustrating the life-long ambition of any Muslim in fulfilling that sacred obligation would be tantamount to acting against the holy teachings of Islam.
'Let this year's pilgrimage therefore be problems-free to serve as a referring point for future pilgrimages.' He used the occasion to draw attention to the need for all to help sustain the prevailing atmosphere of peace in the country.
President Kufuor said as a people it was important to cultivate the virtues of patience, tolerance and fellow feeling and endeavour to eschew all forms of violence and anti-social conduct.
'The peace that we currently enjoy must never be taken for granted, but it should be nurtured and guarded jealously for the benefit of future generations.' 'All of us should contribute our quota in building a Ghana where liberty will not descend into chaos and where freedom will be exercised with responsibility and fellow feeling.'
President Kufuor again called on all segments of the society to take the issue of education more seriously, pointing out that in the rapidly globalising world, the qualities that would give anyone competitive advantage were intellectual and creative abilities, which could only come through investment in a balanced education. He therefore asked Muslim leaders to champion the cause of education in their communities.
Alhaji Gado Mohammed, a member of the National Eid-ul-Fitr Planning Committee, praised the Government for the sound management of the national economy and said there was the need to work harder and remain focused on the economic development path chosen. He said with this the future could only be brighter.
He also appealed to all Ghanaians to conduct themselves well for a peaceful run of the 2008 general elections. Earlier Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, the National Chief Imam, led the congregation to say special prayers for the peace, prosperity and progress of the nation.