By Mumini AbdulKareem
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) is to collaborate with the National Assembly and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to work out a Savings Scheme for intending pilgrims in order to ease the payment of their fares to perform yearly pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
The National Commissioner, NAHCON in charge of Policy, Personnel, Management and Finance, Alhaji Yusuf Adebayo disclosed this in Ilorin while featuring on a Radio Kwara personality interview programme, “Playing Host”.
According to him, such arrangement where intending pilgrims would save into the scheme would drastically reduce the stress they go through in making payment to perform the hajj exercise.
He stressed that immediately the commission is licensed to commence the sayings as done in countries like Malaysia, the scheme would be put into operations with reliable trustees.
Alhaji Adebayo announced that out of the 96, 000 slots allocated to Nigeria by the Saudi authorities for this year’s pilgrimage, 76, 000 would be distributed to all the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory and the Armed Forces while the remaining 20,000 would be given to licensed tour operators across the country.
According to him, the commission is working towards maintaining last year’s fare for this year’s exercise, adding that the Saudi authorities has included Value Added Tax on the fare and warned against late payment.
He implored all intending pilgrims to complete their payment for 2018 hajj before the commencement of Ramadan fast in May.
The commission, it has so far refunded over N480m through States Pilgrims Welfare Boards to last year’s pilgrims for services not well provided adding that the refund is an ongoing exercise.
He warned that any state that has issues with service delivery during this year’s exercise would be sanctioned and the seat allocated to such state would be reduced by 10 per cent.
The commission added that with the new E-Track policy of the Saudi authorities, those above 70 years will no longer be allowed to perform hajj and a second timer would be made to pay additional premium of 2,000 Saudi Riyads.