An explanation from NAHCON on the difference in Hajj Fares.
Since the announcement of the final hajj fare for Nigerian pilgrims was made by the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria(NAHCON), Alh. Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, on Friday, a varied limited number of people have been asking some questions about why the pilgrims from the state of the federation would have to pay different fares from the same country.
For over two months, the Commission has been working to ensure the fare did not spiral out of the reach of average Nigerian Muslims, especially against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, bourgeoning inflation, and the depreciation of the naira against the dollar in the forex market. Thank goodness that the commission was able to keep the price below 3Million Naira against all these odds.At the inception of the screening of airlines for this year’s Hajj, the Commission through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) was made aware that tickets for air travel including the charter flight that Hajj carriers charge is influenced by the nautical mile the aircraft covers. It is the reason why the air ticket for Maiduguri and Yola departure is much lower than all the other Northern states as well as Southern Nigeria due to its proximity to Saudi Arabia. In other words, while pilgrims from those two airports spend less than four hours to Saudi Arabia, those from other regions of the North and Southern states spend 5 or more hours to the same destination.
The other reason is the price and location of accommodation in Makkah It is a known fact that some States Pilgrims Welfare Boards with their large contingent needed a more expansive house or building to accommodate some of their pilgrims while some others may not need as much. So, in sourcing for accommodation, the various state go for the accommodation that suit their needs and capacity.
Under the NAHCON’S Act and policy as a regulator, its job is to ensure that the states complied with the benchmark and the standard of accommodation is commensurate with the fare charged. To ensure compliance with this rule and philosophy, the Commission was at the forefront of monitoring and supervising the negotiation process of the accommodation prices. More often than not, it rejected any price it considered skyrocketing even when it has already been agreed upon by the state and the building owner. This is with the sole objective of making sure that the asking price is commensurate with the quality of the accommodation.
Unfortunately, at this time, it is the Sellers’ market, wherein demand is higher than the supply due to the ongoing urban redevelopment in Makkah which has seen so many buildings giving way to urban renewal. This is coupled with the lifting of the cap on allocation to all countries, thus, expanding the attendance from less than One million last year to 3 million this year, thereby putting more pressure on the existing accommodation market.
The other reason why the fare is different from state to state has to do with the local charges by the different state pilgrims in terms of administrative charges, Uniforms, and Registration fees, Transportation shuttle for some state pilgrims who have to engage shuttle buses to transport their pilgrims to departure Centers which more often than not are located in another state. These charges varied from state to state For instance, pilgrims from Zamfara had to be transported to Sokoto for their flight. Same thing with Osun pilgrims who must be moved to Lagos for the airlift. As I stated earlier, the role of NAHCON in this is limited to fixing a cap on the amount that could be charged by states. Thus, while state charge as little as N10,000 some others charge as much as N20,000. It is these instances that was responsible for the different Hajj fare announced for each state. It has nothing to do with the political economy of the states.
While we acknowledged the sacrifice made by intending to fulfill this religious obligation, we promise and assure them that the Commission will continue to do everything to ensure they get value for money in terms of upgrading of quality services rendered to them so that they can realize and achieve Hajj Mabrur.
Deputy Director, Information and Publication