The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has stated that intending pilgrims from Nigeria may miss next year’s hajj if they fail to pay the N4.5 million deposit each as quickly as possible.
Daily Trust reports that the commission had earlier stated that negotiations with service providers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mutawwif, would begin from November 4, hence the need for the intending pilgrims to pay their deposits before then.
The commission noted that payment before then was important as it would enable it to know the number of intending pilgrims, upon which negotiations would be made while payment could start for services to be rendered in the kingdom.
The Secretary of the commission, Dr Abdullahi Rabiu Kontogora, during a meeting with chairmen of state pilgrims’ welfare boards yesterday in Abuja, said there was a little window left for preparation for hajj and that it was pertinent pilgrims paid their deposits on time to secure their visas which would close 50 or 45 days to Arafat.
Kontogora further said, “We have a challenge, and it is not going to be business as usual and we have to follow that calendar by the Saudi authorities. We know they are determined to ensure they work with the calendar; we want to make sure we do not deceive Nigerians so they need to be informed appropriately in regards to the new changes in the Saudi hajj policies.
“Visa will be closed two months before Arafat which has not been the practice but formerly a day or two. Now, they have decided that they want to know the people coming from all countries and the only way we can do that is to close our visas early because a visa is hajj and without it, there is no way you can go for hajj.”
He added that if the visa stopped two months before Arafat, “That means a lot of Nigerians are likely to be left behind; meaning a lot of Nigerians may not be registered at that time.”
The Executive Secretary of the Nasarawa State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Idris Ahmad Almakura, noted that the response states had been receiving from intending pilgrims was quite low.
He said, “We have intending pilgrims that deposited N1m, N2m and N3.5m, but to get to that 4.5m is low. We are going to put out enlightenment programmes so that we can have a good turnover before the deadline.”