Nigerians May Spend Over N725 Billion for 2024 Hajj

NAHCON Chairman, Jalal Ahmad Arabi
NAHCON Chairman, Jalal Ahmad Arabi google

Nigerians are projected to allocate over N725.1bn for the 2024 edition of the annual Hajj exercise to the Holy lands of Makkah and Medina.

This is in compliance with a directive from the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, which requires pilgrims to settle an additional N1.9m balance according to current foreign exchange rates by March 29, 2024.

NAHCON, in a statement signed by the Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Fatima Usara, explained on Sunday that the commission was pushed beyond the deadline given by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah due to late and non-remittances of fares. It was noted that the government had intervened by appealing for cost reductions.

Those who had paid the N4.9m sum announced by NAHCON in February will have to pay an extra N1.9m, while new registrants for the exercise are expected to pay up to N8.5m.

However, only 48,414 out of the 95,000 pilgrims' slot allocated to Nigeria had paid the previous N4.8m average price, as shown in a list of previously registered pilgrims released by the commission, including intending pilgrims from across the 36 states of the federation, the FCT, and the Armed Forces.

Now that the additional fares have increased the total to N6.8m for the early registrants, this group of Hajj hopefuls will contribute N329,215,200,000 to this year’s Hajj expense. The remaining 46,586 new registrants, paying N8.5m each, will contribute N395,981,000,000, bringing the total to N725,196,200,000.

In 2022, the average Hajj fare prices stood at N2.4m naira, with 43,000 pilgrims making the trip and filling the allotted seats. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, average prices in 2023 increased to approximately N2.9m; nevertheless, the country filled all allocated 95,000 seats.

With the new fares soaring to over 280 per cent of fare prices in 2022, and just four days left until the payment deadline, Nigeria might not be able to occupy all the allotted seats, and the final count of pilgrims for this year could decrease even more with the option to withdraw funds.

In a statement on Sunday, the commission announced the hike, stating that Hajj preparation follows a strict timeline. The preparatory timeline for the 2024 Hajj, as released by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, started earlier than usual and is anticipated to conclude before its regular schedule.

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