News Agency of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has restated the commitment of his administration to ensure improved welfare, security and adequate health service delivery to all Nigerian pilgrims, while in Saudi Arabia.

The Chief Information Officer of NAHCON, Malam Adamu Abdullahi, in a statement on Saturday said President Buhari gave the assurance after receiving briefing on the preparations for 2018 Hajj.

Abdullahi explained that President Buhari was briefed on the preparations for the 2018 Hajj by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim and the Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Muhammad on Friday.

He said that President Buhari was informed that the Saudi Authority had approved 95,000 hajj slots for Nigeria, adding that out of the approved hajj slots, 75,000 slots would go to States Pilgrims Boards, Agencies and Commissions.

Abdullahi further said that the remaining 20, 000 Hajj slots would be allocated to the Private Tour Operators.

The Chief Information Officer said that Mr President was also updated about some of the new policies introduced by the Saudi Arabian Government which includes payment of Value Added Tax by all consumers of goods and services in Saudi.

He said the the new policy was with effects from Januaary 1, 2018, adding that the Saudi Authority had also fixed May as the deadline for the conclusion of all Hajj arrangements.

Abdullahi stated that Buhari was also informed about the introduction of Biometric Data Capture for all intending pilgrims.

He said that the President expressed concern over the challenges currently faced by intending Umrah pilgrims.

According to him, Buhari said that Nigeria is not against the introduction of Biometric Data Capture by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but rather the hardship caused by the non-preparedness of the company appointed to implement the policy in Nigeria.

The Chief Information Officer also quoted President Buhari as reassuring the Nigerian pilgrims of his determination to address all challenges associated with Hajj and Umrah operations in the country.

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