Nigeria: 45,000 Nigerians Could Miss Hajj Over Visa Hitches

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There are sturdy indications that about 45,000 Nigerians who paid the 2023 hajj fares could miss the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia over visa points.

LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that, within the final two weeks, the affected intending pilgrims couldn’t safe visas because of the delay within the remittance of their hajj fares to the Central Financial institution of Nigeria (CBN) by the Nationwide Hajj Fee of Nigeria (NAHCON).

Consequently, the CBN could not remit the funds to the pilgrims’ businesses and tour operators’ financial institution accounts in Saudi Arabia for the fee of hajj providers.

State pilgrim officers and personal tour operators have confirmed that all through final week and this week, no pilgrim visa was permitted due to NAHCON’s delay in remitting hajj funds to CBN to credit score the pilgrims’ Worldwide Financial institution Account Numbers (IBAN).

The non-remittance has made it unattainable for tour operators and state pilgrim boards to log onto their varied pilgrims’ portals to pay for hajj providers that embody lodging, feeding, transports and tents earlier than lastly securing visa.

Insiders at CBN stated that prior to now, the hajj fee remitted fares to the apex financial institution two to 3 months earlier than the airlift of pilgrims.

However the officers, who stated they weren’t authorised to talk on the matter, famous that this time, the fee remitted the fund to CBN barely two weeks earlier than the inaugural flight on Could 25, 2023.

The continuing transition and probes of the hajj fee by anti-graft businesses “have fueled CBN’s suspicion of NAHCON overseas transactions. CBN needs to be very meticulous in funding these overseas accounts,” a high official of the financial institution stated.

A workers of the CBN stated that the apex financial institution was alarmed by the hajj fee’s transactions “when it tried to maneuver about $400 million to Saudi Arabia in a single tranche. This single incident compelled CBN to be extra cautious.”

Findings revealed that other than the visa subject, the fee had not mobilised the 5 permitted airways for the hajj operations two weeks after the graduation of the airlift.

“The airways are complaining. They haven’t been paid a dime two weeks into the airlift operation,” an official of the fee stated.

At this charge, it isn’t shocking if the airways fail to airlift all of the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. The fee had airlifted a bit of over 30,000 pilgrims as of Wednesday, abandoning 45,000 others.

It was learnt {that a} supremacy battle between the NAHCON management and a commissioner in control of a crucial workplace was one of many components that slowed down the operations.

The official allegedly disregarded a superior’s order for making funds.

“He does it with open audacity regardless that he has zero expertise in hajj operations. He intentionally slows the system,” a NAHCON official stated.

There are fears that many pilgrims could miss the hajj, with the fee having solely 16 days to evacuate the remaining 45,000 pilgrims to the holy land.

For NAHCON to fulfill up with the deadline, it should henceforth airlift a mean of two,812 pilgrims day by day, which requires no less than six Boeing 747 – 500 passenger capability plane, which is able to function day by day for the remaining 16 days.

Sources say that Vice President Kashim Shettima has intervened in order that CBN can fast-track the funds switch.