2022 Hajj: Get ready to pay more, senior official tells pilgrims
States await NAHCON’s allocation as Nigeria gets 43,008 seats
Executive Secretary, Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Muhammad Abba Dambatta, yesterday, reminded Muslim faithful they would pay more for this year’s exercise.
Dambatta who doubles as Vice Chairman, Forum of Heads of States’ Pilgrims Welfare Boards, made this known while briefing journalists in Kano on the quota allocated to Nigerian pilgrims.
He said: “Besides the naira to dollar exchange rate, there is an increase of 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) in Saudi. So, there is expectation that prices for all services to be rendered pilgrims in the Holy Land would be increased.
“Also, Saudi authorities said existing shuttle buses would be changed completely because they have been in use for over 10 years. Brand new buses would be used to transport pilgrims. Thus, the price for this service will be increased.
“On accommodation also, Saudi authorities said new houses should be used for the 2022 Hajj. So, there would be increase in this regard. If you look at feeding, due to the increase in VAT, feeding charges will also be up. This is in addition to coronavirus test before going to Saudi and on returning to Nigeria. All these are factors to be considered, this year.”
Some 43,008 Nigerian pilgrims will perform the ritual in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, following recent announcement of a maximum number of one million pilgrims approved globally by the Kingdom.
The 2022 quota for Nigeria is largely below the 95,000 slots granted during the 2018 and 2019 Hajj.
The limit is not unconnected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which compelled the Saudi government to ban foreign participants for two consecutive years (2020/2021), as part of measures to curtail impact of the virus.
While unveiling the allocation, Dambatta said the state received the official information from the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON). He said states and the Federal Capital Territory might receive cluster allocations after an emergency meeting with NAHCON today, even as he assured that preparations for the exercise have reached advanced stage.
Dambatta described the 43,008-quota as reasonable enough, given that Nigeria couldn’t exhaust previous slots of 95,000. He said the only concern is a two-year backlog of intending pilgrims, which states will have to contend with. He also assured that the board would not receive fresh deposits until the 2020/2021 backlogs have been exhausted.