Saudi Arabia, has increased the slots of Nigerians intending to perform this year’s holy pilgrimage to the country to 95, 000, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has disclosed.
The Secretary of NAHCON, Dr. Bello Mohammed Tambuwal, confirmed this yesterday while answering questions from journalists in Abuja.
Tambuwal, who addressed journalists along with other top officials of the commission, explained that 75,000 slots were given to Nigerians during the Hajj pilgrimage of 2016.
He pointed out that the 95,000 slots, which the authorities of the Saudi Arabia have accorded to Nigeria, will be strictly worked with, as that is the only channel for pilgrimage by Nigerian Muslims this year.
Speaking on the achievements of the Commission between 2015 till date, secretary explained that NAHCON has refunded the sum of N1.75billion to Pilgrims Boards of the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory for onward refund to pilgrims for un-rendered or poorly rendered services.
According to him, “The Commission in March 2016, refunded the sum of N1.75 billion to pilgrims boards of the 36 States of the country and the FCT for onward refund to pilgrims. The refund was as a result of services not rendered or poorly rendered during the 2015 Hajj exercise.
“It was a demonstration of commitment to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims got value for their money,” he said.
Dr. Tambuwal added that the commission has drastically reduced its dependence on government for financing through the prudent management of resources as well as abolishing the Amirul Hajj delegation.
He identified another milestone recorded by the Commission as the reduction of Madinah accommodation rates from 2.313 Saudi Riyals per pilgrim in 2016 to 1690 Saudi Riyals in 2017 thereby saving pilgrims and the Nigerian Government a total of 12.3 million dollars in foreign exchange.
This, he said, was achieved through direct negotiations with Landlords/Owners of the properties instead of going through agents.