The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, on Thursday allocated 33,976 slots to all 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, for the 2022 Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Zikrullah Hassan, announced the allocation during a meeting with Chief Executives of State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards, agencies, and commissions at Hajj House, Abuja.
Mr Hassan said that the commission decided to allocate the seats after careful deliberations and considerations of the 2019 Hajj performance.
He said that the commission also allocated 9,032 slots to the licensed private tour operators as well as 239 slots to the Armed Forces.
“On Sunday, April 17, 2022, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria received an official confirmation from the Saudi Arabian Ministry for Hajj that there will be Hajj 2022.
“We also received the 2022 Hajj allocation to Nigeria which is 43,008. We also received the information it is best for us to conclude all arrangements with service providers by the middle of May 2022.
“Prior to that, we have received medical guidelines from Saudi Arabia, which we have transmitted to all the states and FCT,” he said.
Mr Hassan said that all intending pilgrims must be registered online through e-hajj, adding that the e-track was already active.
“In due course we shall release the registration guidelines and every registration procedure shall be strictly in accordance with the guidelines.
“Saudi Arabia has indicated that anybody above 65 years must not be allowed to perform Hajj.
“All intending pilgrims must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. By full vaccination I mean the three doses and of course PCR is mandatory.
“Unlike now we are doing Umrah (lesser Hajj) without PCR, for Hajj it will be PCR and Saudi Arabia is saying 72hours, we are going to work on possibly 48hours, before embarking on the trip,” he said.
The NAHCON boss urged executives of states pilgrim’s boards to expedite action to ensure timely completion of registration of intending pilgrims.
On the cost of Hajj fare for the 2022 Hajj, Hassan said that the 2022 Hajj fare would be high because of a number of factors.
“Firstly, we are going to run the 2022 hajj on N410 to a dollar as against N306 to a dollar in Hajj of 2019. If you look at the difference in gap is about 34 per cent jump in cost because Hajj is about 97 per cent determine by the foreign exchange.
“Secondly, Saudi Arabia has increased its Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 15 per cent. That again is a jump in cost.
“Thirdly and equally very important, recently in a meeting with Saudi authorities they told us 2022 Hajj is going to be expensive because they have invested much in Munah and Arafat. Therefore, the cost of services will not be as it used to be,” he said.
On his part, the NAHCON Commissioner of Operation, Licensing and Tour Operators, Abdullahi Hardawa, said there was likelyhood of increased in the cost of 2022 Hajj fare compared with what was obtainable before.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that the breakdown of the Hajj slots allocated to each states indicates that Kaduna State got 2,491, Kano State 2,229, FCT, 1,537, Ondo State 191, Nasarawa 684, Zamfara State 1,303, Katsina state 2,146, among others.