Saudi Arabia Restores 95,000 Hajj Seats To Nigeria For 2023
By Our Correspondent
Prospective Nigerian pilgrims seeking to perform the 2023 Hajj can now breathe a sigh of relief as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has restored 95,000 Hajj slots to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) ahead of next year’s Holy pilgrimage.
NAHCON assistant director, information and publications, Mousa Ubandawaki, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said the good news of granting Nigerian the previous allocation hitherto enjoyed by the country was announced by the director-gGeneral in charge of Hajj Missions at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Bahauddeen bin Yusuf Alwani, at a preparatory meeting for Hajj Season 1444AH via a video conference with the Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zukrullah Kunle Hassan.
“The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has granted Nigeria its usual allocation of 95,000 slots in 2023 holy pilgrimage.
“The hopes of many prospective Nigeria pilgrims to perform the 2023 Hajj may have been answered as the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has approved the pre-COVID-19 allocation NAHCON,” Ubandawaki said.
Thousands of intending Nigerian pilgrims missed the 2022 hajj as only 43,000 Hajj seats were allocated to the country for the 2022 pilgrimage exercise, a far cry from the 95,000 Hajj slots the nation previously enjoyed the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. In both 2020 and 2021 Nigerians and other international pilgrims were banned from the exercise.
Other guidelines released for the 2023 Hajj by the Ministry included the removal of age barrier or limit and cancellation of PCR Test for the Hajj.
According to Ubandawaki, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah also granted Nigeria the right of choice of package for pilgrims services from the Mutawwiffs of African Non-Arab countries, the company responsible for the Tent, Feeding and Transportation arrangements at the Mashair.
In addition, the Ministry also stated that henceforth any payment to service providers must be through the e-track or e-wallet platforms as the Kingdom will not take responsibilities for payment outside the two platforms.
The Ministry also announced that accommodation agreements are to be concluded by the 10th of February (Shaaban) and others by 24th January (Rajab).
In his reaction, NAHCON chairman Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the early preparation and restoring the country’s Hajj allocation.
He said that it was heart warming that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Ministry of Hajj has restored the hope and confidence of many prospective Nigerian pilgrims that desired to perform the Hajj this year.