22nd March, 2018
As the March 31 deadline approaches, only 500 out of over 1,200 intending pilgrims in Oyo State have completed their fare payment for the 2018 hajj.
Alhaji Taofeek Akewugbagold, the Chairman of Oyo State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Thursday.
He, however, said that in accordance with the directive of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), the March 31 deadline would not change.
“Only 500 intending pilgrims from Oyo State have paid fully, but we still have a long way to go because the state’s allocation is over 1,200.
“I believe probably before the March 31 deadline, those yet to complete their payment would do so, if Allah wishes.
“The board will either refund money to those who are unable to complete their payment by March 31 or wait for a final decision from NAHCON before determining the fate of those concerned,’’ he said.
Akewugbagold also said that the board had commenced orientation, inoculation and blood screening for intending pilgrims in Ibadan.
According to him, the board will still take the orientation, inoculation and blood screening to Saki on Tuesday and later to Ogbomoso, Oyo, Ibarapa and Iseyin.
“We decided to take it to the grassroots in order to build on the successes recorded in 2017 by checking unnecessary travels of intending pilgrims to Ibadan,’’ he said.
He said the exercise was to ensure that the pilgrims had perfect understanding of what to do in Saudi Arabia before departing Nigeria.
The board chairman further said that the state would not allow anyone above 70 years of age to go on hajj, except certified by the board’s team of medical personnel.
He said that certain arrangement had been made for the aged in order to give them adequate care.
“The board has also put measures in place to ensure that pregnant women do not find their way to Saudi Arabia with the support of the board’s medical team.
“I urge the intending pilgrims to avoid anything that would tarnish the image of Oyo state and Nigeria in general,’’ he said.