The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on Tuesday allocated 95,000 Hajj slots to Nigeria for the 2024 annual pilgrimage.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, made this known.
He spoke in a statement signed by Malam Mousa Ubandawaki, the commission’s Deputy Director of Information and Publications.
Hassan said Saudi authorities announced the allocation during a virtual meeting between NAHCON and the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
He said that the meeting, which officially marked the start of the 2024 Hajj, was attended by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Hajj, Alhaji Jafar Mohammed.
According to him, representatives of the Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Abubakar Bello, and the Nigerian Consul-General in Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Bello Abdulkadir, were also at the meeting.
Hassan said Nigeria was expected to finalise arrangements and negotiations with catering, accommodation and transportation service providers within the next 120 days.
He also said that NAHCON was expected to submit the list of medical and other personnel to Saudi Arabia early.
The Chairman said Saudi Arabian authorities had told NAHCON to ensure that only carriers with at least two aircraft on their fleets and a back-up would be appointed or allowed to participate in the 2024 Hajj operation.
Hassan called on the Saudi Arabian authorities to expedite action on refund of money for feeding and tent services not provided in Mina and Arafat during the 2023 Hajj.
He said that there was the need for the country to disengage from providing feeding services in Mina and Arafat and allow Nigeria to provide them to afford pilgrims opportunities to enjoy familiar delicacies.
Hassan called on the ministry to review its decision to allow Nigerian pilgrims to depart through the King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah instead of Madina to reduce bottlenecks and logistics problems.
He also appealed for upward review of the number of tour operators and companies to be allowed to conduct Hajj from 10 to 100.
He added: “The action will enable the commission to organise the agencies for effective management and control; the sudden decision would seem to be too harsh.”
Earlier, the Leader of the Saudi team, Dr. Badr Mohammed Al-Somi, urged NAHCON to strive to meet up with the time frame.
Al-Somi said: “We want all Hajj missions to be proactive in meeting our time frame so that we won’t allow what happened previously.
“It will also give the missions sufficient time to examine the services before pilgrims’ arrival.”
He added that the refund sought by the commission was being looked into.