By Favour Nnabugwu
A civil society organisation under the aegis of Independent Hajj Reporters, (IHR), has vowed to monitor State Muslim Pilgrims Boards share the 33,976 Hajj 2022 seats allocation to intending pilgrims.
This is to ensure that each State are equitable distribution of Hajj seats to pilgrims,
NAHCON has allocated seats to states using a commendable 2019 airlift performance yardstick to States and private Tour Operators. A total number of 33, 976 were distributed to states and 9,032 set aside to be shared to registered private tour operators.
The Top 10 Hajj states like Kaduna received 2,419, Niger 2256, Sokoto 2404, Kano 2,229, Katsina 2146, Kebbi 2128 , Lagos 1562, , FCT 1538, Bauchi 1362 and Zamfara 1303
The civil society in a statement signed by its national coordinator Ibrahim Muhammed said it has instructed its members across the states to liaise with the leadership of the boards and agencies in the states to know the number of intending pilgrims that has been are able to meet the criteria set by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), and those that are eventually selected to perform 2022 Hajj.
Muhammed also noted “The allocation of 2022 Hajj Seats to States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards follow certain criteria adopted by NAHCON and we urges States Pilgrims Boards to applied its agreed principle of first come first served.
The IHR said it is already aware that Saudi Arabian authorities have limited the maximum age of those who can perform Hajj 2022 to 65 years. This criterion alone, it said, will disrupt the philosophy of ‘first come first serve’ because there are pilgrims who paid much earlier than others but are above 65 years.
The CEO also said the projection of N2.5 Million as Hajj fare will also affect the outcome because not all those who are in priority list will be able to pay up the balance of their fare as at when due.
However, IHR advised that those who paid in 2019 should be given the right of first refusal before 2020, and 2021 depositors. This sequence of distribution should also supersede the NAHCON/SMPWBS’ 60/40 seat formula.
IHR further appeal to States Muslim Pilgrims Boards Executive Secretaries not to succumb to Politicians who may put pressure on them to allocate Hajj seats to their political foot soldiers at the detriment of intending pilgrims.
“With a few days to the primary elections of major political parties, desperate politicians may likely want to hijack Hajj seats as part of political favours to woo delegates or influence support to their candidature.
Saudi Arabia has allocated 43,008 Hajj quotas to Nigeria for this year’s pilgrimage after 2 consecutive years of suspending Hajj due to the Corona Virus pandemic.