The appointment of the 76-year old Sheikh Ishmael Cudjoe Quaye alias I.C Quaye as Chairman of Hajj Board, is going down as one of the worse decision made by President Akufo-Addo.
Hajj Pilgrimage in recent past, had been successful under the chairmanship of Alhaji Ibrahim Abdul Rauf Tanko, currently the Member of Parliament (MP) for Yagaba-Kubori Constituency.
But the 11-member board, led by the former Greater Accra Regional Minister last week, struggled to organize its maiden flight, leaving pilgrims at the mercy of bad weather and rampaging thieves in the Tamale Metropolis of the Northern Region.
Interestingly, the Vice president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who had gone to the Tamale Hajj Village last Thursday, to score some political points by seeing off the pilgrims, was equally stranded as the plane to carry the Muslim faiths was nowhere to be found.
At the greater part of Friday, over 500 pilgrims at the Tamale Sports Stadium, were left stranded, because of delayed flight to Saudi Arabia.
The Northern Regional Coordinating Council in an attempt to persuade the angry Pilgrims at 12 midnight gave them biscuits and soft drinks.
In the end, Flynas’ airbus A330, had to airlift a total of 420 pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the Tamale Airport for the start of this year’s Hajj. The number was 86 short of the original figure for the first flight. The flight got to the Tamale Airport Friday night.
They were to leave the Tamale Hajj Village on Thursday, but as a result of flight unavailability, the first batch of the Ghanaian Hajj Pilgrims left Friday night, August 11, 2017, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a smaller plane secured for the journey.
Former Communications Director and member of National Hajj Board, Alhaji Alhassan Suhuyini, observed that lies and propaganda by the Akufo-Addo-led government, is to blame for what happed at Tamale Airport.
“It was very embarrassing for the Vice president Dr Mahamudu Bawumia himself to be at the ceremony where in the past the even before he became vice President used to escort the pilgrims to see to their take-off before departing the airport,” he stated.
“In this case, the Vice president was taken all the way to Tamale where there was a lavish ceremony and I am sure he expected that he will do same and perhaps, that is why he came in with a flourish language and the propaganda”
“Propaganda may win you election but when you get to office the propaganda must stop,” the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker for Tamale North pointed out.
“Unfortunately for him, Allah was not asleep and this should be a wake-up call to him”, he said on Joy FM’s Top Story.
“That attempt to criminalize the past government and even in some cases to take the credit from us I will just love to leave the discussion here”
“When we took office there were backlogs and it came as a result of quota system the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave us,” Alhassan Suhuyini explained.
According to him, there have been some robbery cases reported by the pilgrims at their camp at the Tamale stadium. He mentioned that about four motorbikes have gone missing as well as luggage of some of the pilgrims.
“I’ve heard apart from the sanitary situation, people are stealing all over the place. Because it is very close to the forest and the forest may be inhabited by all kinds of things. Last night I heard they had stolen more than four motorbikes at the place and have even taken some luggage. I can’t confirm this but these are reports I’m hearing from the ground.”
“It tells you that the location is also contributing to the frustration of these pilgrims. If they were located in town where the Jubilee Park is the police barrack is nearby they could have used the facilities that are there to attend to distress call and they could have avoided all of these frustrations instead of demonizing someone and making the other look good,” he added.
Mr. Suyuhini condemned the relocation of the pilgrims from the jubilee park to the stadium was a bad decision.
“…The people who championed the communication pointed to how this was better than what was done in the previous years and how this is going to be better and how people messed up in the previous year and they are going to do it better. All thdse are needless. Our focus should be on how to get the pilgrims the best experience ever because it is not an easy exercise to perform. So you don’t need some of these frustrations.”
He, however, urged the pilgrims to remain calm, while authorities put measures in place to rectify the issues.
As at Saturday, the Vice President, was appealing to would-be pilgrims at the Tamale Hajj Village to remain calm as they await the arrival of other flights in Tamale, assuring them that each pilgrim will be airlifted by the close of the scheduled date. He was seen in the aircraft bidding the pilgrims farewell.
The National Hajj Board, has also assured that they would be airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj soon.
President Akufo-Addo, in February appointed the Hajj Board, making Sheikh I.C. Quaye – Chairman and editor of Daily Guide newspaper, Alhaji A.R Gomda, as the head of communications.
The National Coordinator of the NPP’s Nasara club, Kamal-Deen Abdulai and renowned herbal medicine practitioner, Sheikh Amin Bonsu as members.
Abdul Malik Adams Gariba, Mr. Farouk Hamza, Alhaji Inusa Amadu, Ismaela Ibrahim, Mohammadu Osmanu Alidu, Mohammed Osumanu Yunusah, Braimah Adams, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed, as members.
Dr. Seidu Zakaria and Dr. Sani Abdulai, were also appointed to head the Medical and I.T unit of the Hajj Board.