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05.03.2005 Regional News

Give us regional representatives on Hajj Board

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Wa, March 5, GNA - Muslims from the Upper West Region, who performed this year's hajj, have called for the reconstitution of the Hajj Board or Committee to comprise representatives from all the regions.

They said so they could easily identify the members and hold accountable for any organizational lapses. They also suggested that Tamale, the Northern regional capital, should become the departure point for all future pilgrims from the three Northern regions as a way of mitigating the problems pilgrims from that part of the country usually face, when they converged in Accra to make the journey. The Muslims made the suggestions when they called on the Regional Minister, Mr Ambrose Dery at his office on Friday, to congratulate him on his appointment and to also brief him on the ordeal they went through during the pilgrimage.

Alhaji Yahaya Daud, a spokesman for the pilgrims alleged that as a result of the organizers inability to meet certain basic financial commitments to the Saudi authorities, they got stranded at Jeddah without shelter and food in near freezing temperatures for five days, with the old and weak pilgrims among them developing illnesses. He said when they eventually left Jeddah, they were camped 45 kilometres from Mecca without adequate water and they also had to incur extra financial costs by commuting daily to the city to perform the rituals.

The pilgrims warned the organizers that, they were not prepared to bear any further costs on their luggage that were yet to arrive from the Kingdom by sea.

Mr Dery assured them that the government and Muslim leaders were working closely to ensure that the difficulties they encountered never occurred in subsequent pilgrimages. The bitter experiences notwithstanding, Mr Dery said the spiritual upliftment they got from the hajj was a blessing to the region in general, since they had come back with renewed spirit to serve their communities.

The Regional Minister acknowledged the contribution of Islamic Scholars to the advancement of education and technology, and urged Muslims to rededicate themselves to the education of their youth for the development of their communities. He called for unity within the Muslim front in the region, reminding them that there could not be any meaningful development without peace.

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