HomeDocumentaryAnalysisFOREX: NAHCON raises cost of Hajj

FOREX: NAHCON raises cost of Hajj

*Requests intending pilgrims to add N1.9m within 3 days *New applicants to pay N8.45m *As Lagos urges immediate compliance

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON has adjusted the cost of Hajj to reflect the current realities of foreign exchange rate even as federal government intervention gave a slight boost to intending pilgrims who had completed the initial deposit of N4.9 million.

As a result, the commission has requested intending pilgrims to make additional payment of N1,918,032.91 on or before March 28, 2024.

The commission also stated that new applicants will have to pay the full sum of N8,454,464.74 on or before March 28, 2024.

In a statement signed by the Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Hajia  Fatima Sanda Usara, NAHCON said it would shut down its system by 29th March and no other payment would be accommodated thereafter.

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The statement reads: “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.

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“However, non 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.

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“Federal Government saw wisdom in deliberately intervening on behalf of the Nigerian intending pilgrims through various strategies including persuading cost reductions. “Unfortunately, the interventions could not cover the entire number that had met the final registration deadline. This had remained the Commission’s dilemma. To make matters worse, now about 50,000 pilgrims under the Public Quota have paid the hitherto announced fare of about N4.9million and their payments are currently under the custody of the Commission.

“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 equatable 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.

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“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:

 

S/NSTATESACTUAL NO.OF SEATS PAID FOR
1ABIA
2ADAMAWA1,767
3A/IBOM
4ANAMBRA
5BAUCHI2,290
6BAYELSA13
7BENUE87
8BORNO1,780
9C/RIVER0
10DELTA40
11EBONYI13
12EDO265
13EKITI186
14ENUGU18
15FCT,ABUJA2,489
16GOMBE1,262
17IMO98
18JIGAWA1,260
19KADUNA4,656
20KANO2,906
21KATSINA2,654
22KEBBI3,344
23KOGI13
24KWARA3,100
25LAGOS1,857
26NASARAWA1,866
27NIGER3,200
28OGUN925

 

29ONDO491
30OSUN1,548
31OYO1,047
32PLATEAU1,345
33RIVERS42
34SOKOTO3,563
35TARABA1,000
36YOBE1,290
37ZAMFARA1,596
38ARMED FORCES403
TOTAL48,414

 

“However, any new registration for 2024 Hajj from today, 24th of March will attract the full sum of N8,225, 464.74 from the Adamawa/Borno axis. From the North zone,fresh depositors will pay N8, 254, 464.74 whereas fresh payments from the Southern zone will attract N8, 454, 464.74 as Hajj fare. All categories are to pay within the same deadline.

“While the Commission regrets the short notice, it has become inevitable due to Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s stern warning to Nigeria regarding the delay in adhering to the Hajj arrangement framework. Before now, NAHCON had pleaded for an extension which had been reluctantly granted and now the Ministry’s patience is wearing thin.

“As for those who wish to withdraw their registration for the 2024 Hajj, they are advised to formally request for refund from their states which will be treated with all seriousness.

The next four days are crucial for stakeholders, especially those willing to intervene in support of their pilgrims, to take necessary actions and ensure smooth Hajj arrangements.

“NAHCON remains committed to facilitating the pilgrimage experience for Nigerian Muslims and seeks cooperation from all parties involved.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board has called on all its intending pilgrims to act accordingly and make the additional payment on or before close of work on Wednesday 27th March, 2024.

A statement signed by the Board Secretary, Saheed Onipede urged intending pilgrims who wish to pay the increment/fresh applicants to raise their Bank draft from either Guaranteed Trust  Bank (GTB) or Zenith Bank for ease of transaction.

 

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