For the first time in the history of Hajj operations in the country, members of its board were sworn into office by a president at the seat of government.
He definitely went the spiritual way to ensure that those so appointed live up to expectation and avoid the negative 'business-as-usual' culture which has reduced Hajj affairs to issues of unacceptable public commentaries and opprobrium.
After swearing them into office, President Nana Akufo-Addo charged members to live up to the expectations of their compatriots. He could not have been more serious about the high standards he expects from the members.
The Hajj has over the years been dogged with myriad bottlenecks and these have turned the annual exercises into a near conundrum.
The president's charge was informed by his knowledge of the aforementioned challenges. The choice of a group of Ghanaians from the faith upon the recommendation of the relevant personalities in both the political establishment and the faith therefore was informed by a sincere effort to address a nagging problem.
It is a fact that in Ghana, the Hajj connotes troubles at the Hajj Village: prospective pilgrims languishing at the location, not knowing whether they can make it to the Holy Land or not.
Although in the past few years such spectacles have been wiped out, somewhat the inability of the managers of the operations to airlift all those who paid remains a nagging problem, indeed, an albatross around the neck of the members of the board and Hajj agents.
A few days ago, the association of Hajj agents petitioned the president over the inability of over 400 persons to make it to the Hajj, even they had paid their fares.
This is not the first time that such a problem is being encountered. It is not a challenge restricted to the immediate past managers of the Hajj having persisted for many years now.
We have observed how the past government failed to fulfill its promise of supporting the Hajj operations through a certain subsidy arrangement. It has failed to make good such a promise relishing, however, the political leverage emanating from it. We have also noted how the government failed to pay the fares of public servants and others it foisted on the Hajj Board and how these constitute major factors for the whopping debts around the neck of the board.
It is our expectation that the new board would learn from the challenges created by the previous government and avoid same as they undertake the arduous operation.
It was refreshing to hear the Chairman of the Hajj Board Sheikh IC Quaye assuring the president and his compatriots that a successful Hajj awaits them. What he did not state was how the challenge posed by the over 400 persons is going to be resolved.
Since they have just been sworn in and have not even met for the first time, we can only cross our fingers and see how the seemingly Herculean task is resolved.
We are longing to see a new dawn in the management of the Hajj. Let us witness the airlifting of pilgrims without open and concealed challenges.
We also charge the newly outdoored board members to do all they can to recover the fares of the persons who were unable to fly to Saudi Arabia.