Hajj Fare Hike Creates Uncertainty for Pilgrims


By Aliyu Mohammed Haidar 

Nigerian pilgrims hoping to embark on the holy journey to Mecca this year are facing a harsh reality: an unexpected increase in Hajj fare. This comes after they had already made full payment based on the initial announced cost.

Initially, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) set the Hajj fare at N4.5 million, anticipating a stable exchange rate. However, the introduction of the new forex policy by the current administration, allowing the Naira to float freely, resulted in currency depreciation. This, coupled with global financial difficulties, forced NAHCON to adjust the fare.

Registered pilgrims who had already paid the initial amount now face an additional payment of N1.9 million. New entrants must pay a much higher fare, ranging from N8.2 million to N8.4 million depending on their departure zone. This unexpected financial burden may force many, particularly those with limited resources, to abandon their pilgrimage plans.

Despite the challenges, NAHCON deserves credit for
negotiating significant cost reductions for services in Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims will benefit from lower accommodation and transportation costs compared to the previous year. These reductions helped mitigate the overall cost increase.

While NAHCON's cost-cutting measures are commendable, the financial burden on Nigerian pilgrims remains substantial. There is a need for the federal government to consider offering concessionary forex rates to ease the pressure on aspiring pilgrims. 

This aligns with the established tradition of past administrations supporting Hajj pilgrims through such measures. 
By following suit, the government can demonstrate its commitment to making this sacred journey more accessible for Nigerian Muslims.

The Hajj fare increase presents a significant hurdle for Nigerian pilgrims this year. However, it also serves as an opportunity for NAHCON and stakeholders to implement long-term planning and savings strategies. By working together, they can help aspiring pilgrims fulfill their spiritual journey with greater financial certainty. 

Additionally, a renewed commitment from the federal government through concessionary forex rates would further alleviate the financial burden on Nigerian pilgrims.

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