Nigerian Pilgrims Distance Selves From ‘Under-feeding’ Report

Nigerian Pilgrims Distance Selves From 'Under-feeding' Report

Nigerian intending pilgrims in Saudi Arabia have distanced themselves from a social media report on the kind of breakfast purportedly served to FCT pilgrims.

The rebuttal comes on the heels of viral social media posts on the kind of breakfast being served FCT pilgrims in Saudi Arabia after paying N8m as 2024 Hajj fare.

However, checks on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at the FCT camp revealed that the report about under-feeding of the pilgrims was untrue.

The pilgrims expressed doubt concerning the veracity of the story, insisting that the social media post was not from any pilgrim in the holy land.

“That person must have eaten more that half of that breakfast before he took the photo of the remnant and mischievously sent it to his friend who posted it on Facebook,” an intending pilgrim, Aliyu Musa, said.

Another intending pilgrim, Sani Ismail, said: “That wasn’t the quantity of food shared to us for breakfast. If anybody should complain, it should be us (the pilgrims) and not someone in Nigeria. Look, nothing of such (small ration) happened. They are just looking for trouble.”

“The food we are served everyday is good and the ration more than enough per pilgrim. Most at times we have to discard the leftovers because there is nobody in Saudi Arabia to give it to. So how can somebody snap his leftover and send the photo to share as full breakfast ration?” Maryam Umar, a female intending pilgrim observed.

Meanwhile, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has also refuted the viral social media report, calling on the public to ignore it.

NAHCON described it as not only false but also malicious.

A statement on Tuesday night in Saudi Arabia signed by Fatima Sanda Usara, Assistant Director, Public Relations, NAHCON, observed that after addressing the social media post from its root, noted that ethical journalism would not permit a sensible practitioner to lift a story solely from a Facebook source.

The statement read in full: “Our attention has been drawn to a fake news on the Facebook page of one Babagana Digima, purportedly on the kind of breakfast being served Nigerian pilgrims after paying N8m as Hajj fare.

“After addressing the shared story from its root, we believe ethical journalism would not permit a sensible practitioner to lift a story solely from a Facebook source. What is more unfortunate is that the Facebook reporter is here in Nigeria, not in Saudi Arabia.

“Upon citing the story early this morning, NAHCON immediately drew the attention of the originator of the story privately and publicly to the inaccuracy of his claims to allow him to correct the wrong impression assuming he posted it innocently, unfortunately, he did not.

“Still several testimonies were posted on his page by pilgrims on ground in Makkah disclaiming the allegation with pictorial evidences, while NAHCON staff on the platform also provided a clear description of the actual meal that was served, proving that the picture was doctored and that it was a fake news conclusively.

“Unfortunately, Sahara Reporters ignored the responses and the free facts supplied on the page in preference for the sensational side. The medium simply amplified a lie it picked on Facebook with the doctored picture of today’s breakfast served to pilgrims of FCT in their hotel in Makkah, Nama Al- Asriya Hotel and spread it as news.

“The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria urges the public to ignore the fake news being circulated pertaining the FCT pilgrims’ breakfast. The story is not only false but also appears to be malicious.

“On issues relating to issuance of Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) to pilgrims NAHCON , ensuring that each pilgrim will eventually receive their due amount.

“As at 24th April 2024 when NAHCON paid BTA differential for the pilgrims, the Dollar exchange rate was N1,252 to a Dollar thereby N626,000 was paid to be exchanged at value of $500 (Five hundred Dollars).

“This is the figure that the Hajj stakeholders had agreed upon and which NAHCON declared and still stands by. However, information reaching the Commission currently indicates that the banks are issuing BTA at the current market rate of Naira to the Dollar causing a shortfall to the original value whereas pilgrims are supposed to be paid at the exchange rate obtainable on 24th April.

“The Commission assures pilgrims to remain calm as it would not allow their interest to be jeopardized in any way. The Commission has already taken up the matter and hopes to be resolved soon.”

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