By Abubakar Yunusa
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has projected that the fare for Nigerian pilgrims will likely increase by over 50 per cent from what was paid in 2019.
Peoples Daily gathered that the payment for the 2019 hajj was N1.5m, thus, pilgrims who have deposited money since 2020 are expected to pay, at least, N1m more.
Speaking at a meeting with executives of the state pilgrims board for the preparation of the 2022 hajj, NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, said the projection of the increase was due to the prevailing economic realities and other factors.
He said, “The projection is on the increase because as of 2019, the exchange rate for hajj was N306 but now it will be at N410 to a dollar. We all know that hajj is 97 per cent by foreign exchange for food airlines and others.
“Also, Saudi Arabia has increased their VAT from 5 percent to 15 percent. What they also said is that they have made a massive investment in Mina and Arafa.”
Hassan said the intending pilgrims would be required to be fully vaccinated with a booster shot, saying that a PCR test is also a must.
On how the exchange would be conducted with a backlog of payment already made, NAHCON boss said selection would be made based on a first-come-first-serve basis with a sharing formula of 40 percent for the regular hajj and 60 percent for those on the Hajj Savings Scheme.
He disclosed that out of 43,008 slots given to Nigeria, 33,976 would go to states while 9,032 would be allocated to private tour operators.