The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Tuesday praised President Muhammadu Buhari, saying his administration’s agricultural reform policy had empowered more local farmers to enlist for this year’s hajj.
The Chairman of the nation’s pilgrimage agency, Abdullahi Mohammed, said the current government’s agric policy had economically empowered several local farmers across the country to the extent that thousands of them were able to fund their trips for this year’s hajj.
A total 81,200 Nigerians are performing this year’s pilgrimage, and Mr. Mohammed said majority – at least 60 percent – of that figure are local farmers enriched by Mr. Buhari’s policy.
Each pilgrim paid about N1.5million for this year’s hajj.
In his speech at the 2017 Pre-Arafat meeting with stakeholders, Mr. Mohammed said, “We airlifted 65,000 pilgrims from states, 4000 more than we did last year, and 16,200 from tour operators, 8000 more than we did in 2016.
“We can also see that the reform policy of the Buhari administration in agriculture is working. Sixty percent of pilgrims are farmers and people who made money through agriculture.”
The Buhari administration says it wants to diversify the economy in a manner that positions agriculture as its cornerstone.
Through its Anchor Borrowers Programme, the government has boosted the growing of rice across the country.
The country is also making efforts to export yam to other parts of the world, Agriculture Minister, Audu Ogbeh, recently said.
In his speech at the Makkah event, the NAHCON CEO, Mr. Mohammed, said he and his staff would continue to reform Nigeria’s hajj operation so it can continue to deliver better value to pilgrims.
“Even if it means paying the ultimate price, me and my colleagues are ready for it,” he said.
He said Nigerian pilgrims now enjoy better transportation and medical services while hajj officials are now more committed to their duties.