The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has reacted to the controversy surrounding the hike in this year’s hajj fare.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) had put this year’s fare at $4,805 (about N1.5m), compared to the $4,003 pilgrims paid in 2016.
NAHCON’s announcement sparked nationwide outrage despite the agency’s repeated explanation that the actual cost of performing the hajj had reduced but that the high fare was a result of the prevailing exchange rate in the country.
“So in actual terms, the component that determines the hajj fare is the dollar; the official exchange rate last year was N197 to a dollar but this year, it is N305 and when you multiply it by 4,805, which is the total fare per pilgrim, it will give you about N1.5 million,” the hajj agency said in a press statement on June 7.
“The bottom line is the exchange rate, which NAHCON has no control over.
Government considers the sensitivity and the importance of hajj and allows us even to enjoy the official exchange rate.
“If we are to use the prevailing bank rate of N368 to the dollar, the cost will be between N1.8 million and N1.9 million.”
But in a statement posted to its website on Monday, the NSCIA said it is “of the view that Hajj-fare can be less than it is, if all parties are genuinely consulted for an appropriate solution and strategy.”
In the statement signed by its Director of Organisation, Isa Okonkwo, the organisation also called for an urgent amendment of the NAHCON Act while calling on the Nigerian government to hands off hajj matters.
Read full statement below:
PRESS RELEASE ON HAJJ FARE HIKE
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), under the able leadership of its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni is saddled with the responsibility of superintending the affairs of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria.
Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam which every Muslim struggles to fulfill at least once his lifetime. It is a form of worship in Islam. This explains why multitude of Muslims from all parts of the world participate in hajj every year. Many countries of the world handle their hajj operations with utmost seriousness and diligence.
We have observed with keen interest the controversy on the hike of 2017 hajj fares as announced by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
The position of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) on Hajj remains as:
1.Whatever concession is given any other Nigerian travelers (including non-Muslim pilgrims) is due and should be accorded to Hujjaj (Nigerian Pilgrims to Mecca).
2.Nigerian Muslims do not demand any other special concessions since Hajj is a religious duty for which we are responsible.
3. Federal Government of Nigeria should hand Hajj-matters (except consular & security) to the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). It is Government involvement that is responsible for the high cost for obvious reasons.
4. The committee set up by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) under the leadership of Gen. A.B. Mamman (Rtd) to work out the modus-operandi of transfer has not been given the required support (particularly in the area of statistics) by National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
5. Hajj should not be commercialised at the expense of the masses who struggle to fulfill their religious obligation, hence the need to explore the cheapest cost for a comfortable and safe-hajj performance.
6. The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) is therefore of the view that Hajj-fare can be less than it is, if all parties are genuinely consulted for an appropriate solution and strategy.
7. The NAHCON Act is due for an urgent amendment to remove the wrong notion that Muslims rely on National purse for the performance of their religious obligation.
Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims on Umrah, Itikaf and elsewhere.
Ustaz Isa Okonkwo
Director of Administration, NSCIA