Subsidy criticism rocks FG’s N90bn Hajj support

Subsidy criticism rocks FG’s N90bn Hajj support

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By Akinsuroju Olubunmi

Subsidy criticism rocks FG’s N90bn Hajj support.

Subsidy criticism rocks FG’s N90bn Hajj support


The Federal Government has faced backlash for its decision to subsidize the 2024 Hajj with N90 billion while allocating only N50 billion for the student loan scheme in the 2024 budget. Education and legal experts have criticized the move, arguing it is a gross misplacement of priorities.


Representing President Bola Tinubu at the inauguration of the 2024 Hajj airlift at Sir Ahmadu Bello International Airport, Birnin Kebbi, Vice President Kashim Shettima revealed that the president had sanctioned the N90 billion subsidy to assist with the pilgrimage costs due to the challenging economic situation in Nigeria.


Shettima stated, “Mr. President is committed to this year’s Hajj due to the economic situation. He has contributed N90 billion to subsidize this year’s Hajj exercise to ensure a smooth and successful operation. The president approved this subsidy to mitigate the high cost of the pilgrimage due to fluctuating foreign exchange rates.”


The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria had previously directed pilgrims to pay an additional N1.9 million, in line with current exchange rates, before the deadline of March 29, 2024. Despite efforts to reduce costs, stakeholders have condemned the subsidy as insensitive, given the country’s economic hardships and underfunded education sector.


Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi, former Vice-Chancellor of Dominican University, described the subsidy as a “gross misplacement of priority,” especially considering Nigeria’s struggling economy and limited government revenues. “It’s not just about the Hajj; it’s about diverting funds to where they shouldn’t go. This money should be directed towards education, health, and social welfare,” he told Sunday PUNCH.


ASUU National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, indicated that the union would review all government-sponsored pilgrimages before issuing a statement. He remarked, “We, as a union, will look at all pilgrimages holistically before making our statement known.”


Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Awa Kalu, also criticized the subsidy, stating, “The government should not get involved in religious matters. If you want to go on a pilgrimage, gather your money and go. It should not have anything to do with the government.”


Human rights lawyer Festus Ogun echoed these sentiments, calling the subsidy a “constitutional and moral aberration.” He stated, “The government of Nigeria has no business sponsoring Hajj or Christian pilgrimage. It is a personal affair, and the funds could be better utilized addressing poverty and insecurity.”


Another human rights lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, described the decision as “unserious and against the people’s interest,” arguing that the funds could establish numerous industries, providing jobs and economic growth.


Lawyer Malcolm Omirhobho added that the subsidy violates Nigeria’s secular principles as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. He said, “The Federal Government subsidy for this year’s Hajj is illegal and unconstitutional. It discriminates against Nigerians of other religious beliefs and violates section 10 and section 42(1) of the Nigerian Constitution.”


subsidy, priority.

Subsidy criticism rocks FG’s N90bn Hajj support

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