Friday, June 9, 2017 6:55 am
A Civil Society Organisation, an Independent Hajj Reporters, on Thursday appealed to the Federal Government to grant an exchange rate concession of N200 to a dollar to 2017 intending pilgrims.
The group made the appeal in a statement by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud in Abuja.
It said such gesture would lower the financial burden of the exercise on the intending pilgrims.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2017 hajj fare is between N1.48 million and N1.58 million per pilgrim depending on their state, including $800 the Basic Travelling Allowance.
In the 2016 hajj operations, according to the state, it was between N1 million and N1.1 million per pilgrim.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), which fixes the fare, had blamed the increase on the dynamics of foreign exchange market.
The increase had generated outcry from stakeholders including the Senate, which had mandated its Committee on Foreign Affairs to investigate what it described as exorbitant airfare fixed for intending pilgrims.
The CSO said the concession would reduce the hajj fare pegged at N1.5 million, adding that during the 2016 hajj, the Federal Government allowed pilgrims to access dollar at N197 to the dollar.
According to the NGO, currently, the official exchange rate stands at N305 to $1 which has greatly raised the 2017 hajj fare.
“Report says Kano state pilgrims are to pay N1, 537, 859.97, Niger N1, 525, 483.30, while Ogun state pilgrims are to pay N1.561.043.
“ It is noteworthy that in 2015, the total package of dollar components of hajj fare was $4,721.93 and pilgrims paid N766, 557 as its naira equivalent.
“ This year, the dollar component in the hajj fare stood at $4, 849 and pilgrims are to pay N1, 511, 223 as its naira equivalent.
The group said it acknowledged the policy of this government of non-sponsorship of people on pilgrimage.
“It is equally important to note that pilgrims are helpless when it comes to monetary foreign exchange policies,“ the group said.