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Hajj 2022: Southern Pilgrims To Pay More Than Those From North As Naira Tumbles


Prospective pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from Nigeria would most likely pay more this year because of the deteriorating value of the naira.

According to Daily Trust, there is anxiety among stakeholders and intending pilgrims over the 2022 hajj as about 150,000 pilgrims may compete for about 45,000 slots, being the expected seat allocation by the Saudi Arabian authorities for Nigeria.

There was no hajj in 2020 and 2021 following the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the world with several countries locking down to contain the spread of the virus.

Therefore, some of the thousands of intending pilgrims who paid for the spiritual journey in 2020 and 2021 said they hope to perform the hajj exercise this year in addition to those hoping to pay also.

Respite came the way of many Muslims, especially intending pilgrims around the world when the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced about 10 days ago that one million pilgrims would perform the 2022 Hajj, out of which 85 per cent would be alocated to external pilgrims while the remaining percentage would be for Saudi residents.

The one million is 50 per cent less than the usual figure of two million pilgrims that performed the exercise pre-COVID – 19.

Pre-COVID, Nigeria used to get 95,000 slots for both states and the private hajj operators.

But with the reduction in the number by Saudi authorities, stakeholders say the slots would be 50 per cent or less than the usual 95,000 slots implying that Nigeria might get between 45,000 or 50,000 slots for both states and the private tour operators.

It would be recalled that about 65,000 performed the exercise in 2019 comprising 45,450 for states and 20,000 for the private tour operators.

With the 65,000 benchmark, stakeholders envisage a backlog of 130,000 intending pilgrims or more to jostle for the slots being expected from Saudi Arabia.

It was also learnt that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) is planning towards 50,000 or less as most countries are doing because of the reduced slots from Saudi.

Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, which every Muslim with the financial wherewithal is required to perform at least once in his lifetime.

Findings revealed that many intending pilgrims have been contacting both the state pilgrims’ welfare boards and the tour operators over the 2022 hajj without getting concrete information on the modalities.

The hajj fare in 2019 was around N1.5million, which is the current price of Umrah (lesser Hajj). At that time, the official exchange rate was N306 to a dollar but now the official rate is N416 and N580/N585 in the black market.

Also, it was learnt that many Umrah pilgrims paid as much as N500,000 for visas when it used to be N250,000.

Also, the cost of air ticket is going to be high considering that many airlines have recently hiked the fare in the domestic markets due to the high cost of aviation fuel known as Jet A1 and the general increase in operational cost.

The cost of airfare alone in 2019 was $1,650 for the southern part of Nigeria; $1,600 for the North and $1,550 for Maiduguri. But this year, it could be between $2,500 (N1.04m) to $3,000 (N1.2m).

Also, while the N270,000 was exchanged to get a BTA of $850, about N353,600 would be required this time around to get the same $850 at the official exchange rate of 416/$.

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