46,000 Intending Pilgrims Yet To Make Full Payment

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National Hajj Commission has revealed that 46,000 of the 95,000 slots for intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia have been unable to pay their fares and other charges for the 2024 hajj.
The commission said yesterday that only 49,000 have made full payment for the exercise.
Citing the devaluation of the naira as reasons, the commission asked those who have made N4.9 million payment to pay an additional N1.9 million to bring the total sum to N6.8 million while those who did not make the initial deposit would pay N8.25 million (for northern region) while those from the south would pay N8.45 million.

The commission’s spokesperson, Fatima Sanda Usara, in an interview yesterday in Kano with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa Service, said, “Yes only 48,000 people have been able to pay out of the 95,000 seats offered us by the Saudi authorities. Seventy-five of those seats belong to the government officials while 20 are for caregivers. If you add everything, we can say we have 49,000 intending pilgrims who have paid their money since the initial deadline of 12th February,” she hinted.
She said the commission might seek assistance from state governors and other rich individuals to assist the 2024 intending pilgrims by paying for their feedings and other bills in order to reduce the costs on them.

This was made known by the spokesperson of the commission, Fatima Sanda Usara, in an interview with the BBC Hausa service, yesterday.
She further explained that the reason why the rates have increased to this level is because the initial rate was fixed when the value of Naira to Dollar had not depreciated this bad.
Initially when the first Hajj rate was announced the Naira had not depreciated this bad as compared to the dollar.

“This is the reason why the rate was down at N4.9 million. It is the change in the rate of Naira to Dollar that has influenced the increase in the latest rate,” she explained.
Speaking on the rush hour increase in the Hajj payment she explained that the pilgrims have options of what to do as the rates have gone up.
There are two issues here, they have the choice of seeking the refund of their money, on the one hand, and they have the choice of leaving the payment in the states where they paid against next year.

It is now the choice of the intending pilgrim, if he wants his money refunded, it will definitely be refunded,“ she added.
She further dismissed the claims that the decision for the last minute increase is to reduce the number of those that will be able to make it, saying, „The intention of the National Hajj Commission is that if we are going to pay the balance of N95,000, we would not mind. But we have to go by the prevailing situation.

We have approached the Saudi authorities to increase out time for us which they have done and the time is closing up, it was decided that if we can find those that will assist and make up the payments on their behalf, which if we don‘t find, then every intending pilgrim must have to go and pay his N2 million balance in addition to what he had earlier deposited.

Yes, the commission had earlier approached state governors and some philanthropists that can assist to pay for the feeding of the pilgrims at their residences during the Hajj and similar assistance that will ease the spending to be incurred by the intending pilgrims.
“If we are successful in this, good, but if we are unable to find it then every one of the intending pilgrims will have to pay the N2 million balance.“
The federal government had done its utmost best because it had engaged in a lot of negotiations that have reduced costs for the intending pilgrims,” she said.

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