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JUST IN: FG Subsidises Hajj Fares With N90B Amid Hardship

The Nigerian government has allocated a whopping N90 billion to subsidize the 2024 pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, as revealed by an undisclosed source within the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).

This was contained in an exclusive report published by Daily Trust. The subsidy comes at a time many Nigerians are facing biting hardship and hunger as prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed.

Meanwhile, the source, who preferred to remain anonymous, emphasized the significance of this financial intervention, stating, “Without this intervention, each of the intending pilgrims would have been requested to add at least N3.5 million to the initial fare which was pegged at N4.9 million.”

A senior official at the Presidency corroborated this saying, “The federal government actually provided some financial support for the Hajj exercise.”

This move comes after NAHCON previously announced a fare of N4.9 million per pilgrim last December, citing an exchange rate of N897 to a dollar. However, due to ongoing foreign exchange challenges, the commission later increased the fare by N1,918,032.91, bringing the total amount to N6.8 million.
95,000 Nigerian Pilgrims Perform 2023 Hajj

Attributing the hike in fare to the foreign exchange crisis, NAHCON’s source lamented the challenges posed by the situation, suggesting that with adequate support from the government, pilgrims wouldn’t need to pay extra. “The forex crisis has caused a lot of problems,” the source said.

According to the source, NAHCON had requested up to N230 billion from the government to address the fare differential caused by the forex crisis. However, despite receiving N90 billion in support, there was still a shortfall, leading to the call for additional payments from intending pilgrims.

Furthermore, the source revealed that state governments were approached to further subsidize Hajj fares for pilgrims in their respective states, with Kano responding by subsidizing N500,000 for each pilgrim.

Regarding the government’s support, a presidency source acknowledged the assistance, stating, “Of course, the federal government has offered support for the pilgrims because the pilgrims have been lamenting.” However, the official declined to confirm the exact amount released, suggesting it might not be far from the reported N90 billion.

The source also explained the government’s stance on supporting religious activities, noting, “Normally, any support that the government is giving to any faith, whether the Christian faith or the Muslim faith, the government does not like to announce it openly so that it will not appear as if the government is favoring one faith.”....CONTINUE FULL READING

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