The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has clarified why it asked for an extra $100 (one hundred dollars) payment by Nigerian pilgrims for the 2023 Hajj Pilgrimage to Saudi-Arabia.
In a press statement signed by NAHCON’s Deputy Director of Information & Publications, Mousa Ubandawaki, he said “It has come to the notice of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) of a trending news item or information that the pilgrims to this year’s Hajj have been directed to pay additional $100 dollars.
“It is important to clarify that the Sudan crisis which has resulted in the closure of its airspace for security reasons. Consequently, all Hajj airlift flights will operate through alternate routes which are from 1 hour 40 minutes to 3 hours longer depending on the departure points in Nigeria. This alternate route would necessitate the carriers to fly through the airspace of Cameroun, Central African Republic (CAR), Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea, with additional cost of aviation fuel and over flight charges.
“We thoroughly reviewed all of the options in relations to funding the additional $250 dollars to the Airlines which involved several process and meetings with the Airlines, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards in order to find a quick resolution to the problems. The Commission therefore resolved to manage the situation thus:
I. The Commission solicited Federal Government to compassionately agree to waive the remaining 35% of aviation charges in favour of Airlines which would translate to $55 (fifty-five dollars). This would further alleviate the additional cost of the airfare on the Nigerian pilgrims. The Government had earlier waived 65% of the aviation charges to bring down the cost of Hajj. With this development, the $250 (two hundred and fifty dollars) addition negotiated with the airlines will be reduced by $55(fifty-five dollars).
II. The liability of the remaining $195 will be borne by the 75,000 pilgrims which is calculated at $117 per pilgrim.
III. To offset the $117 without causing additional financial obligations on the Pilgrims, the Commission resolved to reduce the Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA) for 2023 Hajj Pilgrims to the sum of $700 (Seven Hundred Dollars) against Eight Hundred Dollars ($800.00) provided in the Hajj package already paid by the pilgrims.
IV. As for the remaining $17 (Seventeen Dollars) NAHCON has further sought understanding of the air carriers to offer that amount as additional discount to Nigerian Pilgrims who are also victims of the Sudan airspace closure.
“We however hasten to clarify that should the Sudanese airspace be cleared for normal flight either before the commencement of the airlift or at any point of the operation, appropriate refunds will be made to the pilgrims.
What is playing out from the trending “news” is but a misrepresentation of fact. We want to make it clear that the Commission will never be part of any act that will exploit the pilgrims. The Commission has always made itself available to the media and the pilgrims to offer its maximum support and cooperation in provision of information.
“The Commission once again wants to reiterate its commitment to the smooth airlift of Nigerian pilgrims as well as give them the best of services in the course of administering Hajj.”