Mohammad Ibrahim, Kaduna
Independent Hajj Reporters has urged the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to extend the March deadline for the registration of pilgrims for 2018 hajj.
Nigeria was allocated 95, 000 slots for the year; with 70, 000 distributed to states pilgrims and 20, 000 to independent tour operators.
A statement by the civil society’s National Coordinator Ibrahim Muhammad and Publicity Secretary Abubakar Mahmoud said: “less than 30 days to the deadline, states pilgrims’ boards are yet to register 40 percent of the allocations given to Nigeria.”
Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, had earlier announced during a meeting with the chairmen of State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board and Agencies, in Abuja that the Saudi authority had fixed end of May 2018 as the dateline for the closure of all hajj registration and closing of Saudi hajj registration portal.
He said it was in view of the that that NAHCON after meeting with the states pilgrims’ boards set March 31, 2018, deadline for the registration of Nigeria pilgrims to enable Nigeria meets its obligations and to avoid unnecessary delays that could affect smooth hajj operation.
Independent Hajj Reporters said granting extension will give intending pilgrims enough time to pay for the hajj seats.
The civil society is worried that failure to utilize 95, 000 hajj seat quota might lead to further reduction of Nigeria’s seats allocation by Saudi Arabia.
“Though we understand that the deadline set by NAHCON was at the instance of Saudi Arabia 2018 hajj plan of concluding all hajj preparations before the commencement of Ramadan, part of the Saudi 2018 hajj guideline mandated hajj missions to meet its financial obligations to hajj service providers for numbers of allocation given to them to enable the kingdom perfect plans for 2018 hajj,” the statement said.