Why Nigeria’s Hajj Slot may Increase to 150,000 – Official

Why Nigeria’s Hajj Slot may Increase to 150,000 – Official

Kano Pilgrims in Minna ahead of Arafat
Kano Pilgrims in Minna ahead of Arafat

Why Nigeria’s Hajj Slot may Increase to 150,000 – Official

By Abdulrahman Abdulraheem, in Makkah

There are indications that Nigeria may achieve its much-talked-about increase in Hajj slot in the coming years.

This is as some Nigerian and Saudi Arabian stakeholders who met recently agreed that based on the country’s population and percentage of Muslims, the rightful slot that should be allocated to Nigeria is 150,000 as against the 95,000 slot the country got in the just concluded Hajj exercise.

Fielding questions from journalists in Makkah on Saturday, the Commissioner in charge of Operations at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa, however said the implementation of such an increment may not be feasible in next year’s Hajj due to challenge of tents in Mina and other logistic issues.

Hardawa said as far as Nigeria is concerned, the issue of seeking additional Hajj slot will remain, saying Nigeria is adequately qualified to have more numbers.

He informed the journalists that Hajj slots for every country are determined by the population of the country and the percentage of Muslims, adding that based on a recent proposal in a conference involving both Nigerian and Saudi Arabian stakeholders, Nigeria’s Hajj slot is supposed to be 150,000.

On whether the Commission would reduce the country’s Hajj contingent due to the challenge of tents, he said it would be a disservice to Nigeria to reduce the Hajj slot and deny Nigerians from performing pilgrimage.

He said NAHCON and the Saudi authorities would rather continue to explore creative ways to solve the problems.

“But for the country to accommodate more pilgrims and reduce the challenge of tents, Mina has to be enlarged. There is the option for double decker beds in the tents. But we don’t know what the position of the Ulama will be. The Saudi Arabia authorities will review it as they always do after Hajj operations every year with a view to improving on the performance in the next Hajj operation.

“You must have noticed that they have been improving the facilities over the years. Look at Jamarat for example which used to experience a lot of stampede but look at it now, you all did your stoning in a peaceful atmosphere,” he said.

Hardawa therefore noted that until any other information is released, the 95,000 slot will remain intact.

PRNIGERIA recalls that the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Yahaya Lawal, had during the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) conference held in Jeddah some weeks ago called on the Saudi authorities to increase the country’s Hajj slot, arguing that 95,000 slot allocation is not commensurate with the country’s capacity and strategic position in the comity of nations with healthy Muslim population.

The Chairman NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullahi Kunle Hassan, had followed up the statement weeks later by saying that the shortage of tents and food that Nigerian pilgrims experienced in Mina will not stop the country from requesting for more Hajj slots in next year’s exercise.

“We can’t say because of this present challenge, we should deny Nigerians the opportunity to come here and worship next year.

“Nigerians are willing to troop in here to come and serve Allah and if Allah has called them, who are we to stop them?” he had said.

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