Nigeria retains 95, 000 slot allocation for pilgrims in 2020 Hajj. This formed part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada on behalf of Nigeria.

Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj and Umrah slated 5th December 2019 as date for signing of terms and conditions with Nigeria preparatory to 2020 Hajj exercise. Prior to the signing event, Ambassador Dada conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari’s gratitude to King Salman Bin AbdullAziz and the Saudi Arabian authorities for compensating families of five Nigerian pilgrims who lost their lives in the 2017 crane crash. He expressed Mr president’s gratitude for the hospitality and support being enjoyed by Nigerian pilgrims. The Minister of State, Foreign Affairs further conveyed the president’s request to Saudi Arabia to assist in every way possible, and support, NAHCON’s regulatory role in terms of pilgrims’ airlift to Saudi Arabia.

Representative of NAHCON’s Acting Chairman and present NAHCON Acting Commissioner Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Modibbo Saleh, delivered a message of gratitude to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on behalf of his Chief Executive Officer. The Acting Chairman had sent appreciation for the brotherly cooperation his team had been enjoying, after which Alhaji Saleh formally informed the gathering that Nigeria’s president has nominated a new NAHCON board currently awaiting Senate confirmation. He then reminded them that Barrister Abdullahi Muhammad had hinted them of this possibility in their recent meetings.

The Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah who led the Saudi delegation in the signing ceremony, Mr Benten noted that he had been Deputy Minister of Hajj 20 years ago before rising to become present Minister therefore understand the tremendous progress that Hajj affairs has witnessed in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, part of agreements reached for 2020 Hajj include an emphasis that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj will not recognise any Hajj payment/registration done outside the e-track portal. Such registration is considered illegal and the Kingdom will not be liable for any consequence that follows such a payment. This information was disclosed by Vice Minister of Hajj and Umrah, AbdulFatah Mishat in a technical discussion preparatory to the MoU signing ceremony. He was supported at the meeting where most of the technicalities where perused by Deputy Minister of Hajj, Makkah and Deputy Minister of Ziyara Madina. Others on the Saudi Arabian table were representative of the Minister of Interior, Majeed Al’Rakan Al’Ajami; Representative of Immigration Department, Yusuf Muhammad An’namri; Deputy Minister in Charge of Madinah, Muhammad Ibn AbdulRahman Albijawi; Deputy Minister in Charge of Makkah Emirate, Fahad Munir Alkhuthami; representative from Madinah Emirate, Turki Ibn Barkai Abu Raba’a and Manager in Charge of Hajj and Umrah at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Mazeen Ibn Ahmad Bazuhair.

He further disclosed that pilgrims could pay an optional 100 Saudi Riyals or more as insurance cover for any accidents, loss of property and other risks they may face while on Hajj. This does not however relate to medical care as the Kingdom grants free health care to every pilgrim while in the holy land.

On the clarification on visa fees, the delegation declared that the amount is 300 Riyals for all types of visas that is the Umrah or visit visa. However, the validity of these visas do not extend to Hajj period. Issuance of such visas ends shortly before the onset of Hajj season. Mr Mishat commended NAHCON for its effort in controlling visa violation and absconding in the Kingdom.

NAHCON delegation was informed that new policies will be conveyed to the Commission via the Ministries official platform thus called for more collaboration with the Commission’s ICT unit. He assured that for 2020 Hajj, additional 60,000 toilets will be constructed by the Kingdom in order to address the shortage.

Others on the NAHCON team are Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabi, Justice Isa Dodo, Acting Consul General, Ambassador Grema Satomi NAHCON Commissioner Foreign Affairs.

Fatima Sanda Usara,

Head, Public Affairs,

NAHCON