"Nigeria’s government will offer a
concessionary exchange rate to more than 65,000 Muslim citizens intending to
make the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia this year, even as the country turns to
borrowing to plug a budget gap", Bloomberg said Saturday.
The Central Bank of Nigeria "issued
a circular instructing commercial banks to sell dollars to Pilgrims going to
the Hajj at an exchange rate of N197." The apex bank
explained "that the sale of the forex will be funneled through
commercial banks who are then mandated to sell to pilgrims at N197. Pilgrims
are expected to purchase a minimum of $750 and a maximum of $1000 per
The interbank rate is about N320/USD and
the exchange rate is almost 400 in the black market. It would cost Nigeria an
estimated N7.9 billion ($25 million) to subsidize the dollars for about 70,000
pilgrims. Last year President BUhari had made waves when he promised to stop sponsoring hajj for Muslims and
The insult in FGN's denial of Forex
The government as could be expected and
has been typical, denied it gave a waiver on forex. "FG has not given foreign exchange waiver to pilgrims – Hajj
Commission," Vanguard published Sunday.
In the denial, the commission described
that "what the
government did for the Nigerian pilgrim was to allow the exchange rate
prevalent at the time of payment of Hajj fare in February when the current
flexible exchange rate was not in action to subsist."
Further stating that it was "therefore wrong and mischievous for some persons or media
organisations to peddle unfounded claims that the Federal Government gave the
Nigerian pilgrims a waiver."
1. It's an insult on our collective
Not only did the Federal government make
attempt to deny it was giving a foreign exchange waiver to Muslim pilgrims, but
the federal government went further to insult the intelligence and
character of the billions in Nigeria and abroad who recognized the forex waiver
for what it is: a foreign exchange waiver and Federal government commitment of
billions of Naira in sponsorship of 2016 personal hajj spiritual adventure.
It is unfair, and annoying for the
government to insult those who object to and criticize its conduct, as
"mischievous" and with other debasing words. This pattern has
been seen with the intentional attempts to mislead Nigerians when fuel was
thrown to black market sourced dollars and the government attempted to
obfuscate the masses into believing the already removed subsidy was again
removed. The pattern of insulting the masses has continued by arms of the
government as a means of defense from varieties of government actions of
incompetence to frank brutality. Cases of the alleged defense of the former DHQ
Procurement chief and current army chief on property and cash acquisition, to
insults at the masses and media during the FGN
and NASS budget padding media-exposed incidents and other insults
tossed at the masses when many anti-corruption failures and broken campaign
promises are of note. The government must learn to be truthful and honest as a
best PR tactic and respect the masses and their collective intelligence.
2. There is no such provision under the
constitution or CBN regulations
There is no provision in the
constitution and there was no provision in the floating of the Naira that
provides for the government to sponsor or subsidize business or religious
commitments of citizens or agencies made before the forex devaluation.
Let's give a simple example: if a
particular Nigerian had deposited $10,000 out of a total import cost of
$15,000, in the US for the purchase of a car this February while the CBN dollar
rate was still $197. Will Godwin Emefiele and the Presidency provide that individual
the balance of $5000 to import his car since he made that commitment in
February at the time the pilgrims allegedly bought their tickets?
3. Pilgrims should not even have been
subsidized with CBN dollars in February either
There is no justification for the
government to have claimed that citizens were expected to have
been subsidized with the CBN 197 rate dollars for pilgrimage in February
had the Naira not been devalued. Even then, Muslim and Christian
pilgrims were expected to buy dollars for their journey at the black
market rate. Not only did President Buhari assert that he will not sponsor
pilgrimage among his apparent broken promises, but also, with the prevailing
economic hardship and recession, the president while
speaking to Al Jazeera before the devaluation, stated that only
essentials will get CBN rate dollars. Is personal hajj spiritual adventure such
a priority and essential? So the February rate claim is without basis and
inapplicable even in February.
Buhari's religio-political games attempt to rip-off the spiritual yield of Hajj 2016
Pilgrimage is personal business: President Buhari was reasonable and responsible when he promised not to
sponsor pilgrimage. His reneging on of his promise is not only a
major disappointment but with the new lies and games the pilgrims are
inadvertently being exposed and involved in, this attempts to corrupt the
spiritual mission of the pilgrims. Pilgrims should never be involved in government
injustice, corruption, lies or political machinations.
With the acceptance and blessing of
Nigerians ONLY can Nigeria subsidize dollars for pilgrims. Being compelled to
support a presidency that reneges on its promises and to be benefactors of such
violation puts the pilgrims in a bad situation.
Allah(s) would have still given the pilgrims the blessing if they could not afford it
The attempt by the Hajj Commission to
cheat the intelligence of the masses by claiming the pilgrims were entitled to
pre-devaluation CBN-rate dollars and government subsidized dollars not
only from the CBN, but at a rate from February passed, is corruption and an
involvement of the pilgrims in this. Islam clearly gives blessing for
pilgrimage based on intention. If the dollar rate changed for all Nigerians
since intention was made, and certain people can no longer afford the hajj,
then Allah(s) in His ultimate Mercy will still give them the blessing.
Pilgrims beware: "Corrupt" government funding may taint Hajj blessing
The fifth pillar of Islam recommends
pilgrimage only for those who can afford it, and the Holy Quran sanctions going
on a pilgrimage only through hard and honestly earned funding.
The Quran categorically prohibits
Hajj pilgrimage on unethical fiscal support. Where the federal government of a
secular nation, breaks its oaths and commitments, violates the constitution and
plays unethical games to illegally commit state funds to fund
hajj trips, the pilgrimage becomes spiritually shaky.
Government subsidy funding of hajj
includes tax-collected by the government from unknown and
unsanctified revenue sources, some collected is
from illicit businesses in an Islamic religious sense (like
liquor sales and gambling). Such money of course included in pilgrims' subsidy
will taint the pilgrimage from a spiritual point, just like a drop of urine
does to a bowl of milk.
Who else does Emefiele give pre-devaluation 197 rate CBN dollars?
Who else is Godwin Emefiele still
honoring with pre-devaluation rate CBN 197 dollars? Is he likewise using his
"judgement" to do so for some cabal, as he uses it in alleged
nepotistic recruitment? On what premise and by what constitutional
justification does Emefiele choose who to subsidize with the 197 rate dollar?
Why was 197 chosen and not 111 or 234? So for cabal who the government promised
access to dollars in 2014, say at a time when dollars was 160, is Emefiele
likewise honoring the promise by authorizing commercial banks to sell them
dollars for their refineries and other private projects at 197 or 160
Godwin Emefiele is in many ways
identical to Erdogan of Turkey. He is corrupt, authoritarian and an evil
emperor. Godwin is always at the center of mischievous and serpentine
government regulations that end up crippling the economy and masses. His
decisions always enable corruption, like this latest one which will again allow
an unfair advantage for a few and encourage round-tripping of dollars through
his friends and others.
What part of "one exchange rate for
all" and at all times, to allay corruption and
injustice does Godwin not understand?
Millions of displaced persons dying of hunger
When millions of displaced persons are
dying in Borno from malnutrition due to all stages of
failure of government to provide and secure the provision of food
items to the victims of Boko Haram, is this not a time for better and more
compassionate government investment and sacrifice as its sworn obligations to
protect the lives and livelihood of its people detail; rather than make
politico-religious unethical donations that end up interfering with and
possibly violating personal spiritual journeys of its citizens? Should all
Nigerians rather not sacrifice to help feed
starving and dying IDPs?
We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to
honor one or the other if not all three: either honor his promises, honor the
laws of God for equality, equity, fairness and justice, or honor the Nigerian
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