Nigeria’s slot for the 2017 Hajj has been restored to 95,000 by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This declaration was made by the Saudi Minister of Hajj during a Ministerial Meeting between officials from the two countries on Wednesday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom had in 2013 reduced Nigeria’s quota from 95,000 to 76,000. It said the cut, which affected all countries participating in the annual ritual, was necessitated by development projects going on in the Grand Mosque and other holy sites in the Kingdom.
The meeting of Wednesday kick-started preparatory meetings with Saudi agencies in respect of Hajj 2017.
According to a spokesperson of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Mousa Ubandawaki, the meeting was led by the Minister of Hajj, Muhammad Benten, representing Saudi Arabia, while Nigeria’s delegation was led by the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Khadija Ibrahim.
She was assisted by NAHCON Chairman, Abdullahi Muhammad, and the Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Mukhtar Usman.
“New policies were announced by the Minister of Hajj which included an upgrade of services and buses to be used during movements around Makkah, Mina and Arafat, introduction of shuttle bus service between Mina and Makkah between the 10thand 13th of Dhul Hajj and introduction of new standards for pilgrims’ accommodation,” Mr. Ubandawaki said in a statement on Thursday.
He also said NAHCON officials had between January 9 and 16 met with officials of “Establishment of Mutawiffs for Pilgrims from African non-Arab Countries, General Car Syndicate and Training Department of the Ministry of Hajj, E-TrackCoordinating Agency, the Adillah Establishment and Ministry of Hajj branch in Madina, United Agents, Saudi General Authority on Civil Aviation and Adahi Office of the Islamic Development Bank all in Jeddah”.
He said the Saudi Minister of Hajj and most of the leadership of the other agencies praised the Nigerian Hajj mission for the “wonderful outing in 2016 which made Nigeria among the most organised Hajj Missions and the Nigerian pilgrims among the most law-abiding pilgrims during the 2016 Hajj.
“They opined that Nigeria is currently among the elite nations in terms of Hajj Management as a result of its present level of organization and standard of services enjoyed by its pilgrims,” he said.
Mr. Ubandawaki said arrangements for the 2017 Hajj have been made with respective agencies that would see Nigerian pilgrims enjoying VIP buses with tracking capabilities for all inter-city transportation including Mina and Arafat, staying at the high-brow area in Madina popularly referred to as Markaziyya, a coordinated hadaya payment and management system as well as improved training of Hajj managers.