Moslems and non-Moslems alike in Ghana agree on one thing: the organization of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is porous. Our lead story yesterday on the subject, not surprisingly, attracted much public interest.
What many people do not know however is that it is not a new development. For as far back as living memory would stretch, Ghanaian pilgrims have always complained about the hardships that their agents and the Hajj Board have been putting them through.
We need not go over those here. Now the question is: What can we do to improve things?
We have a few suggestions.
These include the following.
1. A permanent Hajj Company organised in line with Ghana's Companies Code.
2. A Board of Directors to perform supervisory functions and a Chief Executive or Secretary General to run the company.
3. Permanent secretariat with the appropriate secretarial, operational, accounting, research and administrative staff.
4. Seed capital to be provided by the government and other relevant stakeholders
5. Organization to be divided into two sectors: Northern and Southern. The northern sector can be based in Tamale, which has an airport with a long enough runway to accommodate big planes.
6. Strict accounting and auditing conventions to be adhered to.
In short, we must be more professional. The Ad hoc approach has not worked and so must be discarded. It is not an envious record for a country to have as being responsible for 30% of the problems experienced by the Saudi authorities before, during and after the Hajj.
Ghana has developed that reputation.
There is no time to waste.
Vice President Aliu Mahama has already given the assurance that, there would now be a permanent body to handle Hajj affairs. Now's the time.
Let's see action!