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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sanwo-Olu approves over N140M to supplement Lagos pilgrims’ BTA

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved over N276 million to address the shortfall in Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) for the state pilgrims performing the 2024 Hajj rites in Saudi Arabia.

Sanwo-Olu approved the funds after the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reduced pilgrims BTA from $500, earlier agreed, to $400.

The reduction was said to have resulted in a protest during which the pilgrims, especially those on the third batch, threatened to cause unrest in the holy land after they were informed of the new development.

Announcing the governor’s approval, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ibrahim Layode, said that the approval was made after Sanwo-Olu was informed of the development within the pilgrim camp.

Layode disclosed this yesterday while addressing the fifth and last batch of the pilgrims before their departure from Lagos.

The Commissioner, who is also the Amir-ul-Hajj, told the pilgrims that immediately the attention of Mr. Governor was drawn to the development, he, in his kind heartedness and magnanimity approved the payment of the $100 shortfall for each of the 1, 868 pilgrims, pending the resolution of the matter by both NAHCON and CBN.

He also reiterated that Governor Sanwo-Olu, being a promise keeper, would keep his promises by paying the cost of the Hadaya (sacrificial) ram, ziyyarah (visitation) to historical sites in both Madinah and Makkah as well as monetize the Ihram clothes for each of them. He urged them not pay anybody for the aforementioned items.

While assuring them that the pilgrims on the first flight who are yet to collect their BTA would get theirs in the holy Land, he appealed to them to be good ambassador of the state by exhibiting exemplary conducts and behaviours.

He also urged them to endeavour to pray for Governor Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat’s administration in the state and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for peace, progress and tranquility in the country.

The pilgrims who could not hide their joy and enthusiasm about the Governor’s kind gestures, were singing, dancing and praising God for His timely intervention.

One of the pilgrims who craved anonymity, said “’We are extremely happy and appreciate Mr. Governor for coming to our aids. We thank him so much. May Allah in His infinite mercy continue to bless him and his deputy and crown their efforts with success”.

Recall that $500 was initially announced as BTA for each of the pilgrims. The money was later reduced to $400 by the NAHCON) and CBN due to the instability in forex exchange rate, after some pilgrims, especially those on the second flight had already collected it in full.

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