Kano — The government of Saudi Arabia has approved 95,000 slots for Nigeria pilgrims for 2019 Hajj exercise.
The renewed allocation for 2019 indicates that Nigeria maintains the quota enjoyed in 2018 exercise despite the inability to cover the slot.
Besides, the Federal government has entered a Memorandum of Understanding MoU with Saudi authorities on smooth bilateral relations ahead of 2019 Hajj and Umrah exercise.
Signing the bilateral agreement on behalf of the Federal government, minister of state, foreign affairs, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim in Makka, Saudi Arabia, said part of the agreement reached with the Saudi authorities was the approval of 95,000 slots for 2019 Hajj.
In a statement signed by the spokesperson of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Fatima Usara, the minister of state for Foreign Affairs also requested waiver of 2,000 Saudi Riyals imposed by Saudi Authorities on pilgrims participating in Hajj for the repeated time in less than five years and reduction of processes involved in issuance of visa.
Also in the agreement, the Nigeria government demands the country's inclusion in the new project introduced by Saudi government tagged "Makkah Road Project". In the new arrangement, pilgrims are afforded the opportunity to undergo a one-step shop immigration clearance at their home countries airports.
According to the release, the two countries agreed to curtail abuse of visa and violation of immigration, especially the pilgrims that deliberately stay behind at the Kingdom after Hajj, just as the ban on exportation of Kolanuts into the Kingdom remain.
"Another request by the Nigeria government was for GACA to regard NAHCON as a guarantor for air carriers so that allocation of airlift slots and flight schedules can be fast tracked for the convenience of Nigerian pilgrims".
Saudi Arabia Deputy Minister on Hajj and Umurah, Dr. Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, assured Nigerian delegation that the process of visa issuance will be reviewed to reduce the cumbersomeness.
Dr. Benten applauded the general conduct of Nigerian pilgrims during the exercise and assured of the Kingdom's readiness to assist the Nigerian government and people in making the exercise even easier and more comfortable.
The MoU signing meeting is an annual event whereby countries are invited to commit to rules and regulations, guiding Hajj operation.