The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, says the Saudi Arabian government has granted President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to decentralize bio-metric capturing of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia with no financial implication.
The chairman of the NAHCON, Abdullahi Mukhtar, disclosed this to State House correspondents after he updated Mr Buhari on the activities of the commission at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
He stated that the Saudi Arabian authorities had agreed to conduct the data capturing of the pilgrims across the states of the federation where there were intending pilgrims.
“You will recall that sometimes ago Mr President personally signed a letter and he dispatched a Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia to request for a special consideration for Nigerian pilgrims on the biometric capturing which was introduced by Saudi Government.
“The request of Mr President has granted by the Saudi Arabian government – now the biometric capturing will be in all the states of the federation that have pilgrims to perform the hajj.
“More importantly the biometric capturing is free, no payment is attached.
“So, wherever the pilgrims are going for their capturing they should make sure that they don’t pay anything and where money is requested they should decline and states’ boards or travel agents that had probably collected some certain amount for the biometric we will make sure that pilgrims are refunded their money,” he said.
He observed that the granting of President Buhari’s request by the Saudi Arabian government was a clear indication of good relationship between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
On the preparation for this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, Mr Mukhtar announced that the advanced team of officials of the commission would be leaving Nigeria for Saudi Arabia on July 16 to take positions for the arrival of Nigerian pilgrims from Kogi state on July 21.
Also, the Executive Secretary of the National Christian Pilgrim Commission, NCPC, Tor Uja, who spoke with State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with the president, thanked Mr Buhari for his continued support for pilgrimage activities in the country.
He also lauded the President for giving the management of the NCPC the freedom to run and operate the commission without any hindrance.
He also noted with delight the provision of financial support including foreign exchange needed for the smooth operation of the commission abroad.
So we came to thank him, and especially for the Christian Pilgrims for example, for the first time in the history of Christian pilgrimage we are going to lay the foundation stone for the construction of Christian Pilgrims Camp in October.
“The president has made a provision for us in the budget which had never been there before and we appreciate that
“And we know that we would need more money than that, but we are trusting God that we will also raise other funds from churches, from friends of pilgrimage and from the partners of the commission.
Mr Uja revealed that the two pilgrimage bodies, NCPC and NAHCON, would soon host a joint conference of Pastors and Imams as well as pilgrimage leaders across the country to share ideas for the promotion of peace among the diverse religious groups in the country.
The NCPC boss called on all Nigerians to continue to pray for peace, stability and speedy development of the country.