Hajj 2017: Nigeria risks losing quota allocation, says civil society group

Posted by Garba Ahmed, Kaduna | 20 July 2017 | 1,646 times

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Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation, has called for mass enlightenment campaign to persuade intending pilgrims register to enable Nigeria utilise its 2017 hajj seats allocation.

“Nigeria risks losing its allocations quota in subsequent years if it refuses to fill up its 2017 hajj seats quota,” a statement on Wednesday in Kaduna, by the National Coordinator of the Civil Society Group, Ibrahim Muhammed and its Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud said.

“We are calling on NAHCON, States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and agencies, Hajj Service Providers, the media and hajj NGOs to embark on grass roots campaign to encourage Nigerian intending pilgrims to expedite their hajj registration in order to avoid the consequences of Nigeria not utilising its 2017 hajj seats quota.”

Nigeria’s seats quota currently stands at 95,000; states pilgrims have 75,000 and 20, 000 for Tour Operators.

“Of the 75,000 allocated to states, less than 53, 000 have been utilised, leaving 17, 000 seats unsold. The slow responds of pilgrims is being attributed to the hope of possible government’s intervention of granting lower exchange rate to reduce the 2017 hajj fare,” the civil society said.

“The consequences of not utilising our hajj seats quota this year are many: Saudi Arabia hajj authority may reduce next year hajj seats quota to the exact number of this year’s hajj seats sold,” the statement said.

“The status of Nigeria as the country with the fourth largest pilgrims in the world and first in Africa will be quashed. The privileges enjoyed by our pilgrims before owing to our status will be taken away by other countries. The chances of securing hajj seat in Nigeria in future will be slim. Hajj seats racketeering may return in full force as demands for hajj seats will triple supply in future,” Independent Hajj Reporters said.

The statement further indicated that, “Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Iran and Bangladesh are always on the waiting list of countries demanding for more seats. If Nigeria fails to make use of its allocated slots, chances are that it will be grabbed by any of them.”

The airlift of Nigeria pilgrims to this year’s Hajj has been scheduled to commence on July 30.

“While we acknowledge the patriotic roles of the National Assembly on the issue of Hajj fare; we equally appeal to stakeholders to utilise all communication channels to encourage pilgrims to pay with a promise of refund in the event that government eventually grants concession on exchange rate,” the statement said.

Source: News Express

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