The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said on Tuesday in Abuja said that the Federal Government had not provided concessionary exchange rate or waiver for the 2016 Hajj pilgrims.
Addressing newsmen, the Executive Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Abdullahi Mohammed, also denied the involvement of government in sourcing for foreign exchange for the pilgrims.
He added that contrary to the widely held view among Nigerians, the Federal Government was not sponsoring any pilgrim to Saudi Arabia this year.
Mohammed explained that the commission met with State Pilgrims Agencies in January and agreed that with the prevailing economic challenges, the burden of state sponsorship or concessionary rate should be taken off the government.
“ It was at that meeting that we agreed to approach the Central Bank of Nigeria to allow us use the prevailing rate then which was N197 to the dollar.
“ It was on that basis that we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the CBN in March this year.
“ So, it was on that basis that intending pilgrims were charged.
‘’When the payments were remitted to the commission, we deposited the money in our account, domiciled at the CBN since then,’’ he said.
According to Mohammed, it will be unfair to the pilgrims if they are now asked to access their money on the basis of the current exchange rate.
“ People should not forget that when this deal was struck, the current dual exchange rate policy of the CBN was not operational,“ he said.
He said that the ongoing issue of the exchange rate of N197 to a dollar was unnecessary as it was neither a concessionary rate nor a waiver.
The chairman added that the pilgrims were only getting a fair deal.