The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has urged 2017 intending pilgrims, who had paid the initial deposits for the exercise, to pay the balance immediately.
Alhaji Yusuf Ibrahim, the NAHCON Commissioner in charge of Policy, Administration and Finance, made the plea on Sunday in Lagos.
Ibrahim spoke at a meeting of stakeholders and Ulama (Islamic clerics) in the South-West on the 2017 Hajj Fare.
“My appeal to Ummah is for those that have paid the initial deposit for the 2017 Hajj in the zone and the Armed Forces to pay the balance so as to perform the Hajj.
“In the next 20 or 25 days, we are going to commence transportation of pilgrims to the Holy Land,” he said.
The commissioner said that the commission had tried its best to reduce the fare, but has no control over the dollar rate.
He said that the 2017 Hajj fare was fixed at over N1.5 million, much higher than the 2016 rate following the devaluation of naira.
Ibrahim said that the 2017 Hajj fare would have been put at between N2 million and N2.5 million, but NAHCON bypassed the agents in negotiating for accommodation in Makkah.
According to him, from the negotiation, NAHCON was able to save 400 dollars on each pilgrim.
“NAHCON is not out to fleece any pilgrim or inflict hardship on anybody intending to perform Hajj.
“Lots of people complained that the Hajj fare is on the high side, but by the time you look at this components, you will all agree that it is the same amount that we paid last year.
“The difference is the dollar, because last year, the official rate was N197, but this year, official rate is N305.
“So, the difference between N197 and N305 escalated the Hajj fare this year.
In his remarks, the South-West Commissioner of NAHCON, Imam Fuad Adeyemi, assured the pilgrims that the 2017 Hajj would be better than that of 2016.
Adeyemi said that the accommodations in Makkah and Modinah had been consolidated, reorganised, reviewed and reformed for the comfort of pilgrims.
One of the stakeholders, Alhaji Abdulfatai Abdulmojeed, who is also the President, Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria, called for massive enlightenment of intending pilgrims on the 2017 Hajj rites.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was attended by Hajj officials from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and the representatives of the Armed Forces.