Lagos Votes N3.2b On Hajj


Intending Lagos State pilgrims for this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia will spend N3.27 billion as transport fare for the exercise, while the state government says no pilgrim will be allowed to embark on the journey without possessing a voter’s card, national identity card or census card with a Lagos code.

At least, 3,852 pilgrims will embark on the journey to hajj around October this year and they will spend N26 million in purchasing forms for the hajj, with each intending pilgrim spending N7,000 to obtain the form.

Each of the intending pilgrim is expected to make an initial transport deposit of N550,000, and the total is N3.27 billion pending the fixing of the hajj fare by the National Hajj Commission, NAHCON.

Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Oyinlomo Danmole said at the weekend that the state government wants to ensure that anyone going for the hajj must be a resident in Lagos and working in the state.

“The state decided to make available its hajj seats only to intending pilgrims who live in the state. These are people that the state government is legally bound to plan and make provision of its amenities.

“The residency status of all the intending pilgrims would be determined through the provision of one of the following documents-voters registration card, national identity card with Lagos State code and census card,” he said.

According to the commissioner, the era whereby people living outside Lagos rode on Lagos seats to hajj was over no matter how influential such people might be.

Danmole said government’s decision was part of measures put in place to checkmate the unruly behaviour of pilgrims, instill discipline and maintain orderliness among pilgrims travelling with the state government.

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He maintained that the new order was not meant to discriminate against Muslim faithful in the country, but to give due privilege to Lagosians who might not be able to pay for the Hajj operation early enough for the available slot of 3,852 persons.

He disclosed that the Muslims Pilgrims Board would commence the sale of forms for this year’s pilgrimage on 19 March, 2012 at the premises of the Board.

The commissioner said that two sets of forms would be available to intending pilgrims for N2,000 (pre-qualification form) and the second for N5,000 which would be filled by certified and qualified residents of the state.

While disclosing that the intending pilgrims for this year’s exercise are expected to pay a deposit of N550,000 which is 55,000 higher than last year’s charge, the commissioner explained that the increment was a reflection of the innovation of improved services in the area of better hotel accommodation.

He added that any changes in the proposed charge either on the government’s or pilgrims’ side would be duly communicated or addressed.

He, however, used the opportunity to invite organisations and service providers to partner with the state government in the air-lifting, provision of visas and hotel accommodation for pilgrims.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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