Nigeria to Lose $68m to Saudi Arabian Airlines for 2017 Hajj Exercise

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By Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano

Nigeria risks loosing $68million to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the forthcoming 2017 hajj, following the allocation of 45 per cent of the total pilgrims to a Saudi Arabia-based airline, FlyNas, by National Hajj Commission (NAHCON).

Already, local stakeholders in the sector have raised eyebrow as they described the move as a  “rip off that has the capacity to stunt growth in Nigeria airline industry.”

A source also told THISDAY that already “Airline business is mega box conducted in dollars and 45 per cent simply translated to a big minus to Nigeria because the country will lose so much money.”

In total, 95,000 Nigerian would be performing the 2017 hajj that attracted the lowest fee of N1,500,000 covering flight ticket, royalty, accommodation, intra and inter city travels and host of others.

Investigation revealed that NAHCON’s decision to engaged the services a Saudi Arabia-based airline Fly Nas for 2017 hajj was a lopsided policy that has further worsen unfavorable trade balance with the Saudis.

Commenting further on the implications of such policy, the aviation source said: “Instead of encouraging our indigenous airliners, NAHCON has ended up sending them away from the business circle in favour of a foreign airline. It is high time for the federal government to come to the aide of indigenous airliners before it is too late.”

But NAHCON Chief Media Relation Officer,  Alhaji Adamu Hassan Abdullahi, in a telephone chat, confirmed the allocation of 45 per cent of total number of Nigerian pilgrims to Flynas, saying “it was a policy introduced by Saudi authority.”

He dismissed the anticipatory loss as ruse,  stressing that “Nigeria is not going to lose $68million as claimed by the service providers.”

Similarly, there had been groundswell of protest across the 36 states pilgrims welfare boards over what they called “unilateral decision of NAHCON to impose carrier on them contrary to what was obtained in the past.

It was also learnt that in recent meeting held at Saudi Arabia by top Nigerian pilgrimage officials,  they agreed among other things to fought and exert their independence and block  overbearing influence of the regulatory agency.

the source said the process was still one but from the look of things, NAHCON would not do justice to the state pilgrims’ boards, as according to him if care is not taken, the commission will just allocate airlines to states without consulting the states as it does last year.

When contacted, the National Hajj Commission Chief Media Relation Officer,  Alhaji Adamu Hassan Abdullahi in a telephone chat noted that the Hajj regulatory agency was not blame for the policy.

“the Saudi Authority imposed Flynas on countries participating in hajj operation, and according to the policy each country must allocate 50 per cent of its total pilgrims to Flynas.”

Speaking further, “NAHCON chairman insisted that it should not be 50/50 and because of the good relationship between Nigeria and Saudi, we are allowed to allocate 45 per cent instead of 50 per cent.”

He  said “unlike Nigeria, Niger Republic and Senegal had to allocate all their pilgrims to Flynas because Kabo air that usually operates in the two countries was denied a chance for being a foreign airline, and to be honest with you, Nigeria is not going to lose $68million as claimed by the service providers” .

Consequently, NAHCON image Maker advised the service providers to  blame Saudi Authorities and not the Hajj regulatory agency.

He said instead, NAHCON is fighting for Nigerian businessmen, as according to him the commission is in discussion with the Saudi Chamber of Commerce to see how Nigerian businessmen can import goods to Saudi during hajj.

  • musa aliyu

    But what is wring with giving credit to whom.it is due? Flynas can deliver the goods; let them have the contract. Ur airlines are dead or comatose

  • Mystic mallam

    For the sake of sanity and commonsense, when is the Nigerian federal government going to hands off this whole thing about hajj and pilgrimages? I thought we have a constitution that claims Nigeria is a secular state. Does secularity imply that we spend billions of Naira and millions of dollars annually paying for citizens’ private need for spiritual deliverance and piety? Can we not allow individuals and religious organisations with the means to do so, to organise their own spiritual events like hajj and pilgrimages without government, – at least without federal government interference? Why are we deliberately destroying our economy, opening separate subsidised forex windows for Hajjs, while starving our people of crucial needs like food, medicine and basic shelter, all in the name of promoting religion and sponsoring holy trips to Jeddah and Jerusalem? When should enough be enough for a country mired in such protracted recession? I have fears for Nigeria, a country that earns foreign exchange only from the sale of crude oil but spends it liberally subsidising a few privileged citizens’ spiritual needs.

  • Mark Daniels

    Stop this now our children are hungry. Our people drown looking for a better life overseas. I pray God punishes all who participate in the hypocracy of religious pilgrimages. Would Allah/ God not be honored if this money was not spent feeding our hungry children. Anyone who wants to visit Mecca or Jerusalem should pay thier money and go.