Naira crisis: Hajj Commission asks intending pilgrims to pay additional N1.9 million

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The National Hajj Commission has requested 2024 intending pilgrims to pay an additional N1,918 million amid Naira fluctuation against US dollar.

The Commission disclosed this in an update released through its official X handle on Sunday, noting that intending pilgrims should pay up the additional cost before 11:59 pm, 28th March, 2024.

Recall that the Commission had earlier pegged the fare for Hajj at about 4.9 million depending on the departure zone as approved by the government.

However, according to the NAHCON, the revaluation of the Naira against the US dollar in the foreign exchange market resulted in additional costs.

The Commission added that 6,441 intending pilgrims had made the initial payment and were advised to visit their state pilgrims boards to confirm their status.

The states included Bauchi, which had the highest figure of 2,290, followed by Adamawa(1,767). Thirdly, Edo(265) and others made up the total number of 6,441.

With the latest update, intended pilgrims will pay N6,818 million for the 2024 hajj, depending on the location.

“It is widely acknowledged that Hajj preparation follows a strict timeline. As for the 2024 Haj, the preparatory timeline released by the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah began earlier than usual and is expected to end before its normal timing. NAHCON endeavoured to adhere to the schedule outlined by the Ministry.

“However, non-to-late remittances of Hajj fare by those concerned necessitated adjustments, resulting in two date shifts, with the final being 12th February 2024. Recall that on 31st December 2023, Naira was still at N897:00 to a Dollar at the banks. These shifts, unfortunately, pushed the Haj fare collection deadline to fall after the 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 the government.

“The Federal Government saw the 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, about 50,000 pilgrims under the Public Quota have now paid the hitherto announced fare of about N4.9 million, 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 remains open.

“This will complement the intervention of the Federal Government that went the extra mile to support the Nigerian Muslim pilgrims in discharging their religious obligation. Commendably, the government’s policy focus on bringing down the exchange rate has boosted the Hajj fare reduction.

“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 equitable spread because 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 by the current foreign exchange rate.

“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 by 11:59 pm of 28th March 2024. The Commission will shut down its system by 29th March, and no other payment will be accommodated after.

“Affected pilgrims are advised to visit their respective state pilgrims boards to confirm their status”, NAHCON stated.

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