As part of measures to ensure equitable distribution of Hajj seats to pilgrims, Independent Hajj Reporters, (IHR), a civil society organisation has said that it will monitor the distribution of the 2022 Hajj seats by State Muslim Pilgrims Boards, just as it urged officials responsible for the distribution to all intending pilgrims to be fair to all.
The civil society in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed said it has instructed its members across the states to liaise with the leadership of the boards and agencies in the states to know the number of intending pilgrims that has been are able to meet the criteria set by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), and those that are eventually selected to perform 2022 Hajj.
IHR said “the allocation of 2022 Hajj Seats to States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards follows certain criteria adopted by NAHCON and we urge States Pilgrims Boards to apply the principle of first come first served.
The CSO said it was aware of the age limit for performing this year’s Hajj as 65 years, adding that this criterion alone, will disrupt the philosophy of ‘first come first serve’ as there are pilgrims who paid much earlier than others but are above 65 years.
IHR also said the projection of N2.5million as Hajj fare will also affect the outcome because not all those who are in priority list will be able to pay up the balance of their fare as at when due.
However, IHR advised that those who paid in 2019 should be given the right of first refusal before 2020, and 2021 depositors. This sequence of distribution should also supercede the NAHCON/SMPWBS’ 60/40 seat formula.
IHR further appealed to States Muslim Pilgrims Boards Executive Secretaries not to succumb to Politicians who may put pressure on them to allocate Hajj seats to their political foot soldiers at the detriment of intending pilgrims.
“With a few days to primary elections of major’ political parties, desperate politicians may likely want to hijack Hajj seats as part of political favours to woo delegates or influence support for their candidature.
Saudi Arabia has allocated 43,008 Hajj quotas to Nigeria for this year’s pilgrimage after two consecutive years of suspending Hajj due to the Corona Virus pandemic.
Consequently, NAHCON has allocated seats to states using a commendable 2019 airlift performance yardstick to States and private Tour Operators. A total number of 33, 976 were distributed to states and 9,032 set aside to be shared to registered private tour operators.
The Top 10 Hajj states like Kaduna received 2,419, Niger 2256, Sokoto 2404, Kano 2,229, Katsina 2146, Kebbi 2128 , Lagos 1562, , FCT 1538, Bauchi 1362 and Zamfara 1303.