Serve the Pilgrims Initiative (SPI), an NGO, has appealed to President Bola Tinubu, and state governors, to give advance loans to pilgrims’ agencies to secure the hajj slots allocated to them.
The Co-Chair of the group, Malam Yakubu Fagge, made the appeal in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
Fagge said that the bailout would enable the state’s pilgrims boards and agencies to secure the hajj slots ahead of registration deadline for 2024.
He said the advance loan would be in the form of a bailout that would be paid back after the prospective pilgrims must have completed their payment after Ramadan.
The co-chair noted the inability of Nigeria to meet its 2024 hajj 95,000 quota would likely affect its hajj quota allocation in 2025.
He urged intending pilgrims to utilize the 30-day extension window provided by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to complete their payment.
” SPI is appealing to the state and Federal governments to give out these loans to enable their various pilgrims’ agencies to secure their allocations ahead of the Saudi deadline.
” It’s not going to be free funds. The fund would be refunded after all payments have been completed.”
He said the new Saudi hajj calendar was a good initiative, but would require gradual implementation” because most pilgrims in Nigeria and other parts of the world are used to paying hajj fares after Ramadan.
” This is largely because the majority of the pilgrims are either farmers or engage in commodity trading, which is done after harvest.”
” The bailout would go a long way in securing the seats allocated to the states and also safeguard the hajj quota allocated to Nigeria by the Saudi authorities.”
He commended Gov. Umar Namadi of Jigawa for advancing N2.2 billion to the state pilgrims’ agency, to secure 500 hajj seats ahead of the Dec. 31, 2023, deadline.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to allow intending pilgrims to access dollars at the exchange rate of N750 as captured in the 2024 appropriation act as passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Tinubu.
He further appealed that the 2024 budget-approved N750 dollars exchange rate should be applicable to both Muslim and Christian pilgrims.
He commended the NAHCON extension of time for registration for Nigerian hajj pilgrims.
SPI, is a not-for-profit civil society organization, that protects hajj pilgrims from Nigeria, Africa, and beyond. (NAN)