Sokoto State Pilgrims To Pay N1.5m Fare
The Sokoto State Pilgrims Welfare Agency (PWA) has announced a flat rate of N1.52 million as the fare for the 2017 Hajj.
The Director-General of the agency, Alhaji Ibrahim Umar, made this known on Thursday at a meeting with the 23 Local Government Hajj Registration Officers and their assistants.
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He said that the fare was approved by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON). Umar added that all intending participants would be entitled to 800 dollars Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA).
He further stated that no provision was made for minimum and maximum Hajj fares as was the practice in the past.
”Prospective pilgrims from the state have already made initial deposits of N1million.
”They have been given two weeks deadline to pay the balance of the fare as stipulated by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).”
Umar said that intending pilgrim were also required to pay N38, 000 for those performing Hadaya through Ja’iz Bank. He also said that 5,571 prospective pilgrims were expected to perform the Hajj from the state.
Meanwhile, the Senate has urged the Federal Government to direct the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to review the 2017 Hajj fare downwards to a realistic amount, considering the recession.
The Senate also directed the commission to reverse the unpopular, much-talked-about forced-feeding policy since it negated the principle of freedom of choice for pilgrims.
It equally mandated the Committee on Foreign Affairs to investigate the circumstances surrounding the present feeding regime and exorbitant airfare as fixed by NAHCON with a view to exposing any sharp practice therein.
The call by the Senate was a result of a motion on “Extortion of Pilgrims by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria’’ sponsored by Sen. Ibrahim Danbaba (APC-Sokoto) on Wednesday’s plenary.
In the motion, Sen.Danbaba said that the commission was responsible for regulation of matters concerning the welfare of pilgrims, but not limited to approval of annual Hajj fare payable by intending pilgrims.
Danbaba disclosed that on May 29, NAHCON released the approved 2017 fares for 23 states, including Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Ogun, Osun, and Anambra.
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Explaining how it arrive at the 2017 Hajj fare, The chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Mohammed, said the commission did not just fix figure as the cost of air ticket, accommodation, feeding and other services for the pilgrims but that the cost of each component that made up the fare was arrived at after reviewing the entire negotiation and discussions between service providers and the NAHCON team.
“So in actual terms, the component that determines the Hajj fare is the dollar; the official exchange rate last year was N197 to a dollar but this year, it is N305 and when you multiply it by 4,805, which is the total fare per pilgrim, it will give you about N1.5 million.
“The bottom line is the exchange rate, which NAHCON has no control over. The government considers the sensitivity and the importance of Hajj and allows us even to enjoy the official exchange rate.
“If we are to use the prevailing bank rate of N368 to the dollar, the cost will be between N1.8 million and N1.9 million.
“We tried to explain these several times, using all available means and we granted series of press interviews and issued several press releases on the 2017 Hajj fare.
“We also published a breakdown of the fare on the official website of the Commission and released to the public, explaining that we arrived at each component through consensus with stakeholders like the state pilgrims welfare boards and commissions and with relevant government agencies involved in regulating hajj components.
“The cost of air ticket was reached after negotiations between airlines and the commission’s technical team, which comprised representatives from aviation agencies and state pilgrims welfare boards and agencies.”
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The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. This year,