Sheik Ahmed Tsoho-Ikara, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board on Tuesday said only 1, 500 intending pilgrims, representing 22.62 per cent, have made part payment for the 2018 Hajj in the state.
Tsoho-Ikara, who made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria, said that the state has been allocated 6.632 seats by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for the pilgrimage.
According to him, the board still has over 5,000 seats for those wishing to travel for the pilgrimage before the closure of registration on March 31.
“We have started receiving the deposit since Nov. 13, 2017 and like any other Hajj operation, this year’s Hajj started with low patronage.
“About 6,632 seats were allocated to Kaduna State by NAHCON but because of lack of funds in the hands of Nigerians very few number of intending pilgrims registered.
“We are already in March, but so far only 1,500 intending pilgrims indicated interest by depositing their money and not all of them deposited in full.
“Of those that deposited, not all of them completed the stipulated deposit of N1.5 million because some have deposited money ranging from N800,000 to N1.2 million and yet to complete the balance,” he said.
He noted that even among those that deposited the money, not all of them may have the financial strength or capability to complete the full Hajj fare when finally announced by NAHCON.
“It had become a tradition, whenever NAHCON finally fixes the Hajj fare, some intending pilgrims that deposited their money used to default.
“This is not because they don’t want to pay but because they don’t have the financial capacity to complete the remaining balance.
“Our prayer is, may Allah (SWT) bestow his blessings upon all of us to enable us and the intending pilgrims exhaust the seats and request for more,” he prayed.
Tsoho-Ikara attributed the low patronage to low prices of farm produce, unstable exchange rate and poor financial status of many people.
“The problems associated with this year’s Hajj are low prices of farm produce and another problem is the decision of the National Assembly that last year’s Hajj fare was high and it need to be reviewed down. NAN)