Government Votes US$200,000 For Hajj Pilgrims
Government has expended US$ 200,000 as residential expenses for prospective Muslims, who are to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca this year. The amount, which Vice President John Dramani Mahama announced is to ensure that prospective pilgrims are accommodated in one housing enclave to spare them the hassles they go through annually in their attempt to perform one of the most sacred Islam rites.
Speaking at an inauguration of a Mosque and a school complex financed by the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu for the Nyanyarno Community in the Central Region last Saturday, the Vice President assured Muslims that Government will make every effort to ensure that the 2009 Hajj pilgrimage is event free.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and every Muslim is expected to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime, but its organisation has been fraught with many challenges in recent times.
Vice President Mahama said Government is expecting stakeholders not to repeat the mistakes of the past and noted with sadness that some unscrupulous individuals over the years has taken undue advantage of pilgrims.
'No person should be cheated for wanting to perform a religious sacrament,' Vice President Mahama said and deployed cases of infighting among members of the previous Hajj Committees.
The Vice President said if Committee members have their people at heart and appreciated the sacredness of the pilgrimage, then they should not have allowed squabbles among them.
In addition to the accommodation arrangements, which received spontaneous cheers from the gathering, Vice President Mahama also announced that government is devising new payment arrangements for the Hajj. This declaration also attracted wide applause.
Under the new arrangement, which will be effective next year, prospective pilgrims will pay by installment. The Vice President praised the Chief Imam for his sense of foresight to help his people through investing in productive ventures to improve the living conditions of Muslims and Ghanaians at large. He challenged other religious leaders to emulate the example.
He pledged a GH¢10,000 support to the Chief Imam to enable him complete his education project, which is expected to offer tuition for pupils at the basic level.
The Vice President underscored the importance of formal education and the need for the Muslim community to embrace it for their girl-child, saying education should be a priority over all other considerations.
A Muslim Youth Leader, Mr Isahaku Abdul Latif described government's gesture to the Hajj as laudable because it will help to reduce the hassles pilgrims go through each year.