The federal government is spending over 7 billion naira to subsidize Hajj operations this year as PTA, and by the time you add how much will also be spent (or have been spent) on Christian pilgrimage, the figure becomes even bigger.
It will serve God better if this humongous amount is used to feed the over two million desperate and hungry IDPs scattered in different camps across the country, with some dying of starvation or suffering from severe malnourishment. In the eyes of God, the dignity and sanctity of human life is greater than any religious ritual.
It is troubling that this is coming at a time of acute foreign exchange shortage when we cannot even subsidize forex for our students abroad. It is even more troubling when this subsidy goes in the form of PTA which is the money our pilgrims are to spend overseas. This is akin to a state sponsored capital flight. How do you explain this to Nigerians studying overseas and their parents and sponsors?
The fact that nearly 70 000 Nigerians are trooping to Hajj at a time of economic recession is also not lost on me, considering that about a quarter of this figure is sponsored by politicians, public officials, or state governments, most of whom still unable to pay salaries.
We are not a serious country. We are not learning any lesson. There is no rationale for spending our scarce forex on things that could not create jobs or add any real value to our economy. Because even Islam has made this case very simple: Hajj is only incumbent on those Muslims who can conveniently afford it.
Nigeria I hail thee!