The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced that it will restore the 95,000 slots given to Nigeria before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recall that the holy pilgrimage to the city of Mecca and Medina was suspended for international travellers in 2020 and 2021 while slots for 2022 were reduced.
This led to Nigeria getting 45,000 of its previously allocated slot of 95,000.
The Assistant Director, Information and Publications of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Mousa Ubandawaki, in a statement on Wednesday, stated that the position was made known by the Director General in charge of Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Missions at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Bahauddeen bin Yusuf Alwani.
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Bahauddeen during a preparatory meeting for the 2023 Hajj Season via a video conference with the Chairman/CEO of NAHCON, Alhaji Zukrullah Kunle Hassan, added that guidelines released for the 2023 Hajj by the ministry included the removal of the age barrier or limit and cancellation of PCR test.
The statement read, “The ministry has also granted the commission the right of choice of package for pilgrims services from the Mutawwiffs of African non-Arab countries, the company responsible for the tent, feeding and transportation arrangements at the Mashair.
“In addition, the ministry stated that henceforth any payment to service providers must be through the e-track or e-wallet platforms as the Kingdom will not take responsibility for payment outside the two platforms.”
He added that agreement on accommodation would be concluded by February 10 and others by January 24.
In his response, the NAHCON boss expressed appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the early preparation and restoring the country’s Hajj allocation.
He appealed to the ministry to allow the commission to handle the feeding management during the Mashair activities in order to serve Nigerian pilgrims better than what was obtained during the 2022 Hajj by the Mutawwiffs.
While speaking with Daily Trust, the Publicity Secretary of the Association for Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHOUN), Nasir Chamo, said the number of slots would capture those who had paid for hajj last year but could not make it due to reduced slots.
“The number is a blessing in disguise for us. Nigeria as a country and the Muslim population here are ready to fill the quota and NAHCON and the tour operators are working round the clock to enlighten people.”
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