By Aliyu Dangida
The National Hajj Commission has extended the deadline for payment of 2024 hajj.
In a statement on Tuesday, its Assistant Director on Public Affairs, Fatima Sanda Usara said the new deadline is now January 31, 2024 as against December 31, 2023.
This newspaper had reported that the commission was in dilemma over low turnout and might have to extend the deadline.
NAHCON, however, insisted that it would go ahead with the number of intending pilgrims who made the payment before the December 31 deadline.
But the commission has finally backtracked, admitting that the extension was inevitable.
“The extension was in response to the heartfelt concerns raised by religious clerics, State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards/Agencies/Commissions, State Governors and other stakeholders,” she said.
Usara stated that the federal government’s approval for an extension of the deadline provided an additional opportunity for individuals to participate in this sacred pilgrimage.
“The overwhelming request for extension from various religious communities underscores the significance of ensuring accessibility to a broader spectrum of the faithfuls eager to embark on the spiritual journey of Hajj.
“Consequently, NAHCON is confident that before expiration of the new deadline, with the support of its sister agencies, the commission would have determined the total cost of 2024 Hajj,” she said.
Usara noted that the extension would provide a window for new registrants to do so and by the end of January, those who need to balance up payment would be able to do so as well.
“NAHCON seizes this chance to remind intending pilgrims and other stakeholders that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has slated 25th February as end date for signing all contracts, signaling the end of payments into IBAN accounts. With this extension, NAHCON has barely a month to finalize payment of all Hajj deposits into its IBAN account for the 2024 Hajj.
“This extension, even though overstretches NAHCON’s preparatory timeline, reflects the Commission’s Chairman, Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi’s commitment to accommodating the concerns of stakeholders.
He expressed gratitude to religious leaders, state boards, and governors for their advocacy on behalf of the pilgrims.
Malam Arabi described this collaborative effort as a testament to the shared commitment to facilitating a meaningful and inclusive Hajj experience for all. He prayed all Hajj handlers would utilize this opportunity well for success of 2024 Hajj operations,” she added.