The hopes of some pilgrims wishing to attend this year’s edition of Hajj have collapsed. The albatrosses of failure are the Pilgrims Board’s fare hike, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s age limit policy as well as an inadequate slot. Under these conditions, many future pilgrims will miss the event. Daily Trust on Sunday captures their stories in Kano, Kaduna and Kwara.
In Kano, like other states too, some pilgrims face challenges ranging from the inability to pay the balance of the fare, following an increase to the 2.5 million naira age limit set by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which has stipulated an age limit age of 65 for potential pilgrims as well as the uncertainty of obtaining a slot because the number assigned to the State is insufficient.
Therefore, many of them will miss the event, despite that, they had saved some money and were optimistic to do it this year.
Our correspondent understood that those who could not meet the conditions despite having deposited money in partial payment since last year, had been reimbursed because they could not raise the balance of the increase in 1.2 million naira.
Jamilu Jibrin, 46, a future pilgrim who got a refund a few days ago, lamented the hike in fares and the reality of missing out on Hajj after spending two years expecting to attend.
“It’s a trip I’ve always dreamed of. But I had no choice but to get the money back. I filed it two years ago. But the price hike denied me the opportunity. But God willing, I will participate next year,” Jibrin said.
Aminu Umar Tudun Wada said that even if the fare was increased to 3 million naira, he would pay and leave. He expressed his joy that the Hajj is an opportunity to worship Allah with all that one has.
Another future pilgrim, Hajiya Saude Mohammed, said: “At first, when I heard about the dollar hike and that the Hajj fare would be 2.5 million naira, I was not happy. .
But later I mustered up my courage to complete my payment since I had deposited money in the council since 2020. For the past 10 years, I have been looking forward to participating in Hajj. As Allah wills, I am now among those who will go this year.
“My prayer is to be among those who will go as the place given to Kano State is not much.”
Daily Trust on Sunday found that while some potential pilgrims try to pay the balance of the trip, others need to be reimbursed from the the money they had deposited due to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s new age limit policy which states that people over the age of 65 would not be allowed to perform this year’s Hajj.
Mallam Usman Muhammad, 74, was sponsored by his son to perform the Hajj of the year, but was reimbursed.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that Kano State has been allocated 2,229 places and the State Pilgrims Welfare Board (KSPWB) has announced that it will close the collection of the 2022 Hajj fare from prospective pilgrims on May 12, 2022. then ordered (the future pilgrims) to pay the balance within seven days.
When our reporter asked for the reaction of the Kano State Pilgrims’ Council, he said that they had started reimbursing those who were over 65 because they would not. be allowed to perform Hajj.
The board’s public relations officer, Hadiza Abbas Sunusi, said those who could not pay the outstanding balance had also started getting refunds.
She added that the state is committed to paying their money back quickly.
However, she was concerned about the slots because they were sold out, while a lot more was needed.
“We have already paid those who cannot make their outstanding balance. We had set a deadline and those who cannot afford the trip are already receiving their money. We also paid those over 65 as they are exempt from exercise.
“I can’t even estimate how many people are on our waiting list. A lot of people are willing to pay if we get slots and we are looking for that. It has been two years since performing Hajj and that is the reason for the rush,” she added.
The situation is the same in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, as future pilgrims who spoke to our correspondent also expressed disappointment and frustration with the development.
Saadu Sidiq, who described the situation as worrying and traumatic, said the Ilorin Pilgrims’ Council failed to conduct adequate sensitization after the increase was announced and the time needed to find the balance was not enough.
“When they increased it and we tried to pay, I was later told that payment had been closed since Saturday May 7. We tried our best but got the same response. We had paid 1.3 million naira since 2022 before the COVID-19 issue, but that is how God intended it.
“But we haven’t collected our money from the Pilgrims Council in anticipation of next year. We think it will be easier to find the remaining money instead of starting from scratch.
“My advice to them is whenever they notice a lot of people have paid, they should deal with the people who have paid first. In addition, the time allotted for carrying out the assessment is too short. N1.2m is not a small amount to get within a week. Where do they expect us to get 2.5 million naira like this?
“They should have given two to three weeks notice and updated us regularly. We have not been informed of their decision. They didn’t go on air to announce their plans. We only heard about it from some people, until we went to their office to confirm it, he said.
Another intentional pilgrim who sought anonymity said: “Say that we are disappointed is an understatement. We are totally discouraged and our hopes of doing Hajj after so much hope and patience with high expectations have been dashed again through no fault of ours.
“What we want now is for the commission to tell us our fate; or are they just going to let us hang like this despite our best efforts to perform Hajj? Another worry is that we haven’t been carried away by the pilgrim council at all in terms of raising awareness so that we know the latest developments,” he said.
When contacted, the Council’s PRO, Hajia Falilat Jumoke, directed our correspondent to the Executive Secretary of the Kwara State Muslim Pilgrim Welfare Board (KWMPWB), Barrister Abdulganiyu Ahmed.
But several attempts to get his reaction were unsuccessful.
Our journalist who went to the council waited several hours in vain for his reaction.
Additionally, several calls and text messages on her phone were unanswered and unanswered.
But a top source on the board, who confided in our reporter, said more than 400 scheduled pilgrims who were affected by the increased Hajj fare have been reimbursed.
In Kaduna, about 486 prospective pilgrims have so far been reimbursed for their Hajj fares by the National Pilgrim Welfare Agency for 2022 Hajj exercise.
Daily Trust on Sunday understood that they were voluntarily requesting reimbursement.
Many of them, we gathered, have written refund requests for various reasons, including the increased fare. The agency approved their applications and they were given their checks.
The agency’s executive secretary, Dr. Yusuf Yakubu Alrigasiyu, who was out of state on official duty when he contacted him by phone, directed our correspondent to the director of administration and finance of the agency. agency, Hajiya Hannatu Zailani.
Hajiya Zailani explained that currently the state has 3,692 prospective pilgrims pending on the list, but the state has only been allocated 2,491 Hajj seats by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for 2022 .
“These 486 future pilgrims withdrew voluntarily because each pilgrim wrote a request through their pilgrim officer asking for a refund.
“Those unwilling to travel for reasons best known to them have written and their checks have been processed and delivered. But we still have intention pilgrims who withdrew their previous apps. So for those who were reimbursed, it was a voluntary withdrawal,” she said.
Hajiya Zailani also said that there were other future pilgrims who did not call or visit the agency to ask for their money, but were contacted by phone to find out if they were still interested in traveling or not.
She, however, ensured the agency’s transparency in its activities to ensure that justice is done for all future pilgrims in the state.
From Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu, Kano; Mumini Abdul Kareem, Ilorin & Mohammed I. Yaba, Kaduna