Nigeria's National Hajj Commission say adjustment of the Hajj fare is ienvitable due to the devaluation of the country's currency / Photo: AA

By Abdulwasiu Hassan

Nazif B. Aliyu is among the thousands of ordinary Nigerian Muslims whose Hajj plans were plunged into uncertainty last week by an official announcement that the cost of the trip had to be revised upward due to forex fluctuations.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said in a post on X that registered pilgrims who had remitted the previously fixed fare of N 4.9 million would need to pay an additional N 1.9 million (about US $1,461) by midnight on March 28.

For Nazif, the joy of his impending trip to Islam's holiest place was suddenly replaced by the worry of arranging the extra cash at short notice. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam.

"Hajj is God's call. Even if you have the money, you can only go if God calls you. As of now, I can't say whether I have let go or I will pay the additional cost. That's because I haven't even contemplated the possibilities," he told TRT Afrika.

Intending pilgrims in danger of missing out from this years hajj are praying for a way out: Photo/Reuters

As the dilemma of prospective pilgrims like Nazif echoed on social media and beyond, the authorities seemed to have a change of heart.

The federal government offered to pay for the excess expenditure through a fixed subsidy. Much to the relief of pilgrims, some states followed suit.

Aliyu A. Ali, who had paid his fare through the Hajj Savings Scheme, said he received a message from NAHCON saying that anyone remitting the cost of the trip in this manner need not make any additional payment.

Hajj is mandatory once in life for Muslims that can afford it:Photo/Reuters

The organisation confirmed this through a post on its official X handle. "Dear Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS) subscribers, NAHCON has announced that no additional payments are required for debited subscribers. The commission will cover the difference," it wrote.

Mistimed move

While the crisis seems to have been resolved for now, many are questioning whether pilgrims eagerly awaiting the start of their Hajj should have been put through the last-minute torment of arranging an additional N 1.9 million.

Sheikh Kabiru Gombe, a prominent leader of the Jama'atu Izalatil Bid'ah Wa'ikamatis Sunnah, said erstwhile Nigerian administrations had provided support to Hajj pilgrims and this time should have been no different.

Governor of Kano state has offered to pay N500,000 to each intending pilgrim from his state

"We had never before seen this type of crisis affecting the Hajj pilgrimage from Nigeria," Sheikh Kabiru said during a Ramadan tafsir session in the capital city of Abuja. "We call on President Bola Tinubu to support pilgrims in their time of need."

He also urged the state governors to provide subsidies to ensure that many among the faithful weren't forced to give up on the pilgrimage of a lifetime after being saddled with the additional burden.

Aliyu Ali recalled having that sinking feeling the moment he heard of NAHCON's original deadline for payment of the excess amount.

"I felt so bad that I couldn't sleep that night. Just thinking about how I would arrange the additional fare gave me a headache," he told TRT Afrika.

Like many others, Aliyu Ali believed the power of prayer would help him surmount the hurdle. "I decided to sell an asset and prayed to God to choose the best option for me. I was willing to do whatever it takes, leaving the rest to Allah," he said.

Thankfully for Aliyu Ali and thousands of others, faith has yet again found a way.

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TRT Afrika