NAHCON: Weak naira affects Hajj turnout as registration closes today

  • Nigeria faces the possibility of being unable to fill the 95,000 allotted seats for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • One suspected reason for this is the depreciation of the Nigerian naira against the US dollar, hitting an all-time low
  • As the deadline for intending pilgrims looms today, none of the registered states has managed to secure even half of the apportioned space

Nigeria faces a significant challenge in utilising its full allocation of 95,000 Hajj seats for this year’s Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

With registration closing today, many intending pilgrims have yet to complete their payments or even make deposits, raising concerns that the country may not fill its quota.

Pilgrims queue to board airplane to Saudi Arabia
The fluctuation of the Nigerian naira has led to the increment in the transport fare of pilgrims to KSA
Source: Facebook

The suspected reason for this unusually low turnout is the recent surge in the US dollar exchange rate to the Nigerian Naira, the Daily Trust reported.

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This depreciation has led to an increase in the Hajj fee, which was initially set by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) at N4.5 million but has now risen to N4.9 million.

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On January 30, 2024, the Nigerian naira dipped to N1,413 per US dollar at the official window, impacting all transactions reliant on foreign exchange.

NAHCON had previously announced varying payment amounts for different geographical: N4,899,000 for those travelling from southern states, N4,699,000 for those from northern states, and N4,679,000 for intending pilgrims from Yola and Maiduguri.

The commission set February 12 as the deadline for payment to facilitate transferring funds to service providers before February 25.

NAHCON allocated 75,000 seats to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with the remaining 20,000 seats going to non-governmental operators.

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Filling allocated slots appears impossible

Maruf Arowosaye, an experienced Hajj travel organizer, told the Daily Trust that filling the 95,000 allocated spaces is practically impossible. He explained that by now, processing of funds to service providers should have already begun, indicating that registrations would have closed.

Arowosaye stated:

“There’s nothing God cannot do, but it’s going to be practically impossible for us to fill our quota because by now, they ought to have closed the process for the states according to demand from Saudi Arabia.”

Nigeria not alone in facing challenges

Fatima Sanda Usara, assistant director of Public Affairs for NAHCON, clarified that Nigeria is not the only country experiencing low Hajj registration.

Countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have also communicated their inability to fill their allocated quotas to Saudi Arabia.

NAHCON announces online application for National Medical Team

Meanwhile, Legit.ng had earlier reported that medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists and Environmental Health Officers are advised and urged to apply for the 2024 Hajj National Medical Team (NMT).

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) made the announcement on Wednesday, February 7.

NAHCON said the 2024 National Medical Team Operation will be based on volunteerism in line with international standards.

Source: Legit.ng

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