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NAHCON Increases Hajj Fare By N1.9m

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NAHCON Increases Hajj Fare By N1.9m

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has increased the fare for this year’s pilgrimmage to Saudi Arabia by N1,918,032.91, setting a deadline of March 28, 2024.

The Commission announced this in a statement by its spokesperson, Fatima Sanda Usara.

It attributed the development to the forex crisis, which Nigeria has been battling for months.

NAHCON had initially pegged the fare for this year’s Hajj at N4.9 million, with many stakeholders calling for the Federal Government’s intervention.

However, on Sunday, the commission asked those who had paid the initial amount to add N1.9 million balance, raising the total amount to N6.8 million.

“The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) appreciates the high level of understanding and concern that have been demonstrated to it publicly and privately over the 2024 Hajj fare dilemma it has plunged in. This show of support gives the Commission hope that stakeholders would leave no stone unturned for the success of the forthcoming Hajj exercise. At this juncture, the Commission finds it imperative to give clarity regarding the 2024 Hajj fare arrangements.”

“It is widely acknowledged that Hajj preparation follows a strict time line. As for the 2024 Hajj, the preparatory time line released by Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah began earlier than usual and is expected to end before its normal timing. NAHCON endeavored to adhere to the schedule outlined by the Ministry.

“However, no to late remittances of Hajj fare by those concerned necessitated adjustments, resulting in two date shifts with the final being 12th of February 2024. Recall that as at 31st December 2023, Naira was still at N897:00 to a Dollar at the banks.These shifts unfortunately pushed the Hajj fare collection deadline to fall after harmonization of foreign exchange rates, presenting a new and significant challenge.

“What the harmonization meant in the Hajj fare equation was that in the face of global financial challenges, coupled with the new forex policy, Nigerian pilgrims would now be saddled with an unexpected increase in Hajj cost, despite having already paid the fixed fare of about N4.9 million, depending on the departure zone as approved by government..

“Considering the urgency of the situation, NAHCON was forced to explore various options, including encouraging State Governments and affluent individuals to intervene on behalf of their pilgrims. This window still remains open. This will compliment the intervention of the Federal Government that went the extra mile to support the Nigerian Muslim pilgrims in the discharge of their religious obligation. Commendably, government’s policy focus of bringing down the exchange rate has given the Hajj fare reduction a boost.

“The good news now is that with Naira having appreciated to N1,474.00 to a Dollar over the preceding week and after due consultation with stakeholders, coupled with NAHCON’s desire to ensure equitable spread of the Federal Government’s intervention to all the already registered pilgrims whose payments have been received, the Commission resolved that each pilgrim would now have to pay a balance of N1,918,032.91 in accordance with the current foreign exchange rate.

“Intending pilgrims that still wish to participate in the 2024 Hajj are by this release advised to proceed and pay a balance of N1,918,032.91 latest by 11:59 pm of 28th March 2024.The Commission will shut down its system by 29th March and no other payment would be accommodated after.

“Affected pilgrims are advised to visit their respective state pilgrims boards to confirm their status. Below is a table detailing number of pilgrims that have paid the Hajj fare according to states and they remain the number expected to benefit from the intervention.”