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Hajj: FG saves N75bn from discontinuation of dollar concession

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National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, said on Tuesday that the federal government saved N75 billion in 2017 alone as a result of discontinuation of dollar concession during hajj exercise in the country.

This is even as the commission added that the government has also been saving N1.6billion annually since 2015 following the abolishment of sponsorship of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.

These were part of revelations made by the Head, Public Affairs Division of NAHCON, Mrs Fatima Sanda Usara during an interactive session with media professionals, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

Usara explained that the aim of the interactive session is to highlight the achievements of NAHCON under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which she said had brought a lot of positive changes to the operations of Hajj in the country.

She said that in 2017, NAHCON, with the support of government, introduced direct accommodation negotiations with hotel owners in Madina and Makkah, thereby, eliminating agents and saved more than $14 million.

Also in 2018, she said N229 million was saved through querying of local fees imposed on pilgrims by the various state pilgrims welfare boards, agencies and commissions.

She said as part of efforts to curtail fraud in the payment of Hadaya, Jaiz Bank, in conjunction with Islamic Development Bank, was designated to collect money and carry out the sacrifice for pilgrims.

“This has prevented pilgrims from being defrauded of N1.6 billion annually”, Usara said.

She said that the anti-corruption crusade of Buhari had provided solid ground for the Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Muhammad, to sanitise the management of Hajj and Umrah in the country.

Similarly, Usara said that the commission had succeeded in curbing the proliferation of unregistered tour operators by issuing licenses to authentic operators, instituted legal actions against defaulters and shutdown some.

“All these achievements were recorded in NAHCON under President Buhari because of his political will and support to the leadership of the commission.

“President Buhari gave NAHCON Boss the go-ahead to reform and sanitise the management of Hajj and Umrah and to the glory of Allah, Nigeria is now rated among countries that are doing well in Hajj management in the world.

“This has helped the commission to curb waste; and acquired Metro Plaza at the cost of N2.4 billion, only N587 million came as government contribution in form of Capital Project”, Usara stressed.

In his contributions, the Commissioner of Operations, Inspectorate and Licensing, NAHCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Modibbo Saleh, said the commission was working assiduously to curb all forms of fraud associated with the registration of intending pilgrims.

Saleh warned state pilgrims boards against collecting more than N500 for Hajj registration form and advised intending pilgrims not to pay above the approved cost by the commission.

“Though there have been complaints of abuse of registration fees by intending pilgrims. In fact, no state pilgrims welfare board is allowed to announce any amount not approved by NAHCON”, he warned.

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