The Independent Hajj Reporters, IHR, a civil society organisation, has called on states’ pilgrims boards and agencies to reduce the minimum deposit for 2018 hajj fare to N300,000 per month to allow low income earners cope.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by its national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and publicity secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, on Thursday.
The group said inter alia that, “we are of the believe that spreading 2018 hajj fare packages into staggered and affordable monthly remittance will give intending pilgrims the much-needed monetary flexibility to pay for the hajj fare without serious financial strain on their meager incomes.”
NAHCON and states’ pilgrims boards had earlier agreed that intending pilgrims who wish to perform 2018 hajj shall commence this by paying N300, 000 monthly for a four month period to make up N1.2 million pending when the official hajj seat package is released by the government.
The decision was reached during the NAHCON/SMPWBS meeting held at the international conference centre Abuja recently.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, NAHCON permanent commissioner in charge of policy and personnel management, Ibrahim Adebayo, said NAHCON had directed states pilgrims’ welfare boards and agencies to commence registration for 2018 hajj.
”We have also told them to peg the minimum deposit by pilgrims to N300, 000 monthly so that in four months they can be able to make a deposit of N1.2 million”, he said.
But the IHR statement expressed worry with the state of affairs.
“We are worried that despite the resolution reached at the Abuja meeting, Lagos and Kaduna states are asking intending pilgrims to make a deposit of N1.3 million and N800, 000 at a go respectively. In view of the above, we are calling on Lagos and Kaduna States pilgrims boards to review their minimum deposit benchmark to N300, 000:00 as directed by NAHCON.
“We also call on other states that are yet to commence registration to toe the line suggested by NAHCON.
“Over 75 per cent intending pilgrims in Nigeria are farmers and low income earners. Secondly, the current economic reality should have been factored into consideration before arriving at the decision by the two states pilgrims’ boards.”