The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has begun preparations for the 2024 Hajj, allocating pilgrim slots to participating countries worldwide.
As part of this allocation, Nigeria has secured 95,000 slots for its citizens to partake in the spiritual journey to the Kingdom next year, a significant allotment granted in recognition of Nigeria’s ability to fully utilize its allocation for the 2023 Hajj.
The Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, made this announcement during an engagement with the heads of state pilgrims’ agencies and leaders of tour operators in Abuja.
With the release of the national allocation, Alhaji Hassan further revealed that the Hajj Commission had approved the allocation of 71,000 slots to Nigeria’s 36 states, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and the Nigeria Armed Forces, facilitating early preparations.
State-wise allocations include 6,004 slots for Kaduna, 5,934 for Kano, 4,996 for Sokoto, 4,752 for Kebbi, 4,513 for Katsina, and 4,368 for the FCT. In the Southwest, Lagos received the lion’s share with 3,517 slots, followed by Osun with 1,764, Oyo with 1,386, Ogun with 1,191, Ondo with 491, and Ekiti with the lowest allocation of 246 slots.
Similarly, Edo received 412 slots, Cross-River 67, Imo 199, Delta 64, Bayelsa 58, Anambra 15, and Enugu 14 pilgrim slots. Abia and Akwa-Ibo received no allocation.
Alhaji Hassan emphasized that prospective pilgrims should anticipate a higher cost for the 2024 Hajj due to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates to the local currency.
He noted that the Hajj fare would depend on the exchange rate of the dollar, as well as the cost of airfare and services in Saudi Arabia, which would collectively influence the overall cost of the 2024 Hajj.
Furthermore, the NAHCON Chairman disclosed that Saudi authorities had announced the closure of visa issuance to intending pilgrims 40 days before the date of Arafah, marking a departure from the traditional practice of issuing visas to VIPs just days before Arafah.
He emphasized that the era of late entrance and concessions to VIPs had come to an end.
Hassan stated, “The 2024 Hajj will be different from what we used to have because of the new dimensions introduced by the Saudi authority.
For next year’s Hajj, the issuance of visas will be closed 40 days before Arafah. Unlike our tradition where we would issue visas to VIPs a few days before Arafah.
That practice is over.” He also noted that preparations were underway for the 2024 Hajj, with ongoing efforts to address challenges faced during the previous Hajj, including limited space and food shortages at Muna.
Complaints have been formally lodged, requesting refunds and apologies while moving forward with the preparations for the 2024 exercise.
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