October 4, 2022

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has projected that Nigerian pilgrims may pay as much as N2.5m to participate in the 2022 exercise.

This is over 50 per cent increase from N1m paid by pilgrims in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic that stalled hajj activities.

Speaking on Thursday at a meeting with executives of the state pilgrims board for the preparation of the 2022 hajj, NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, said the projection of the increase was due to an increase in the foreign exchange rate, rise in inflation by almost 10 per cent and the increase of Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 15 per cent by Saudi Authorities.

According to him, the commission does not have control over these factors.

“The projection is on the increase because as of 2019, the exchange rate for hajj was N306 but now it will be at N410 to a dollar. We all know that hajj is 97 per cent by foreign exchange for food airlines and others,” Hassan said.

“In addition, Saudi Arabia has increased their VAT from five to 15 per cent. We will try our best to mitigate whatever hardship this would cost the pilgrims but I am sure for many people who had wished two or three years to go to the holy land, this won’t be sacrifice too many.”

Hassan said out of 43,008 slots given to Nigeria, 33,976 would go to states while 9,032 would be allocated to private tour operators.

On the sharing formula, while Kaduna and Sokoto received the highest allocation of 2491 and 2404, States like Bayelsa, Imo, Rivers got zero allocation.

Explaining why these states were not given a slot, the NAHCON boss said the states did not meet the requirements to be licensed to organise hajj.

“The tour operators that are managing hajj and Umrah are licensed by the commission. So equally are all states licensed. So those states without allocation are those who have not met the requirements to be licensed and such they can’t perform. When a state is not licensed it is not permitted for that states to actually organise hajj or Umrah. For Muslims who are in that state and are desirous to perform hajj the commission would take care of that,” he said.

On backlog of payments already made by pilgrims, he said selection would be made based on a first-come-first-serve basis with a sharing formula of 40 per cent for the regular hajj and 60 per cent for those on Hajj Savings Scheme.
Hassan said the intending pilgrims would be required to be fully vaccinated with a booster shot, saying that a PCR test is also a must.

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