The Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), an NGO, on Tuesday advised President Muhammadu Buhari to appeal to the Saudi Arabian Government to increase Hajj quota for the country.
This is contained in a statement jointly issued in Abuja by the National Coordinator and Publicity Secretary of the group, Messrs Ibrahim Muhammed and Abubakar Mahmoud, respectively.
The statement noted that the visit of Buhari to Saudi Arabia provided an opportunity for him to plead for Hajj quota increment for the country because of its large number of Muslim population.
It said that in 2015, Indonesia Hajj quota was increased by 10,000 after Indonesia’s president pleaded with the then King Salman during their bilateral meeting.
“In the last three years, the number of Hajj seats allocation to Nigeria stands at 76,000 due to the 20 per cent cut necessitated by the Grand Mosque expansion project,’’ said the statement.
It also recalled that prior to the 20 per cent slash Nigeria’s annual allocation was about 92,000; which the group noted was grossly inadequate.
Within the same period, however, countries like Pakistan, India and Indonesia are allocated 94,000; 143,000 and 160,000, respectively. But as for Nigeria, a country with over 60 million Muslim population, got 76,000 Hajj seats,” the statement said.
It therefore urged the president to request for more Hajj seats for Nigeria as more than a million Nigerian Muslims compete for the 76,000 available slots allocated to the country yearly.
The statement observed that the reduction had made it difficult for those who have the capacity and ability to perform their religious obligation.
It suggested that seats that were not fully utilised by other nations could be given to Nigeria to ease the challenge of scarcity of Hajj seats.
It also urged Saudi Hajj Authorities to consider the request for increase in Hajj seats in view of the tremendous progress made by Nigeria in terms of compliance with Hajj rules.