Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the operation of 2019 Hajj exercise.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday by its Head of Public Affairs Division, Fatima Sanda Usara.

The statement said the minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, signed the agreement for Nigeria while Dr. Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, the Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah, signed for his country.

In the agreement which was signed in Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Makkah in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom allocated 95,000 Hajj seats for Nigeria, same as the previous year.

Dr. Taher Benten commended NAHCON for the successful management of the 2018 Hajj operations and Nigerian pilgrims’ general conduct during the 2018 Hajj exercise.

He assured of the Kingdom’s readiness to assist the Nigerian government and people in making the exercise even easier and more comfortable.

Meanwhile, at a technical session co-chaired by Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj, Dr. Hussain Ibn Naser Alshariff, and NAHCON’s chairman, Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, the commission requested for waiver of 2,000 Saudi Riyals charged on pilgrims participating in Hajj for the repeated time in less than five years and for visa issuance to be made less cumbersome.

“It was also requested that Nigeria be included in the newly introduced arrangement tagged ‘Makkah Road Project’; where pilgrims will undergo all necessary immigration clearance at the airports in their home countries before proceeding to the Holy Land, such that, upon arrival at Saudi airports, they will simply pick their bags and proceed without further scrutiny,” the statement said.

In his response, the Deputy Minister assured the Nigerian delegation that the process of visa issuance will only get better as the Kingdom is keen on seeing to that.

However, to curtail abuse of visa, both parties agreed to work together to address the menace of immigration violators who overstay their permit in the Kingdom.

In another development, the Saudi delegation emphasized on the rule banning importation of kolanuts into the Kingdom while calling on the Nigerian delegates to intensify enlightenment over the matter.

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