Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation, on Sunday hailed Saudi Arabia’s decision to restore the 20 per cent cut in Hajj quota to all hajj participating countries.
A statement signed by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna, said the gesture would allow more Muslims discharge their religious obligations.
The statement noted that since the 20 per cent reduction five years ago, the number of pilgrims performing the Hajj had gone down.
“Last year, 1,325, 372 foreign and 537, 537 domestic pilgrims performed the Hajj, making a total of 1, 862, 909 pilgrims which is the lowest in the last ten years of hajj exercise.”
According to the statement, Nigeria’s quota was slashed from 95,000 to 76,000; before its recent increase back to 95,000.
“With this development, Nigerian Muslims will have more opportunity to secure hajj seats to fulfil their religious obligations.
“It will also compress the pressure of trying to secure hajj seats through the back door, and close avenue of possible hajj seat racketeering.”
It advised the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria to give priority to first timers, states with higher demand and those that meet set standards during its recent capacity verification exercise.
The statement urged the commission, state pilgrims boards, and tour operators to double efforts to meet the anticipated increase in the number of pilgrims this year.