Future Nigerian pilgrims looking to perform the 2023 Hajj can now breathe a sigh of relief as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has restored 95,000 Hajj slots to the Nigerian National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) ahead of next year’s holy pilgrimage.

NAHCON Deputy Director of Information and Publications Mousa Ubandawaki revealed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the good news of granting Nigeria the previous allowance the country had hitherto enjoyed was announced by the director general in charge of Hajj Missions at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Bahauddeen bin Yusuf Alwani, at a preparatory meeting for the season. Hajj 1444AH via video conference with NAHCON President Alhaji Zukrullah Kunle Hassan.

“The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has given Nigeria its usual allotment of 95,000 spaces in the 2023 holy pilgrimage.

“The hopes of many would-be pilgrims from Nigeria to perform the 2023 Hajj may have been answered as the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah approved the pre-COVID-19 NAHCON allocation,” Ubandawaki said.

Thousands of future Nigerian pilgrims missed out on the 2022 Hajj as only 43,000 Hajj seats were allotted to the country for the 2022 pilgrimage exercise, a far cry from the 95,000 Hajj spaces the nation previously enjoyed due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. In both 2020 and 2021 Nigerians and other international pilgrims were banned from exercising.

Other guidelines released by the Ministry for the 2023 Hajj included the removal of the age barrier or limit and the cancellation of the PCR test for the Hajj.

According to Ubandawaki, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has also given Nigeria the right to choose the package for pilgrim services from Mutawwiffs from non-Arab African countries, the company responsible for tent, food and transportation arrangements in the Mashair.

In addition, the Ministry also stated that from now on, any payment to service providers should be made via e-track or e-wallet platforms, as the Kingdom will not bear any responsibilities for payment outside of the two platforms. .

The Ministry also announced that accommodation arrangements will be concluded before February 10 (Shaaban) and others before January 24 (Rajab).

In his reaction, NAHCON President Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for early preparation and restoration of the country’s Hajj allowance.

He said it was heartwarming that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the Ministry of Hajj, has restored hope and confidence to many would-be Nigerian pilgrims wishing to perform the Hajj this year.