As Oyo State pilgrims groan over the non remittance of their basic Travel Allowance, BTA of “$800 , insinuating that their money had been diverted, the Chairman, Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Prof. Sayed Malik has denied the conjectures saying the reports being circulated via online channels, were unfounded and far from the truth.
Prof Malik said: “It is not true in any way, that the Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board (Muslim Wing) has diverted funds meant for the payment of BTA of the first batch of pilgrims from the state, who are currently in Saudi Arabia. Such a report can only be a figment of the imagination of the writer.
“The truth of the matter is that there were delays in the release of BTA to the Board as a result of the late release of the circular guiding the payment of the allowances by the authorities in Abuja. This is not peculiar to Oyo State pilgrims, as all pilgrims across the states are faced with the same situation.
“As a result of the delay, the first batch of travellers from Oyo State and several other states of the federation had to embark on the trip to Saudi before the BTA could be secured. The delay, however, does not indicate that any of the travellers would lose their entitlements.
“By the time the second batch of travellers were leaving Nigeria, only a fraction of the entire BTA had been secured and it was concluded that each of the travellers be made to get $400 while those who were already in Saudi Arabia were paid $200 each, pending the release of the entire money by the Nigerian authorities.
“It must be placed on record that the dollar scarcity which had hit the foreign exchange market is a key contributor to the delay to secure the required BTA.
“While the delayed payment of the BTA is regretted, we have to place on record that there is no intention to divert anyone’s entitlement or deny any of the pilgrims their due. We make bold to undertake that each of the pilgrims will get what is approved for them in the course of the holy pilgrimage.
“The welfare of every pilgrim remains our utmost concern at all times.”