The Greater Accra Regional Minister Henry Quartey has assured the scores of Muslims who demonstrated in Nima in Accra over the hajj fees, that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will act on their concerns.
He said this after receiving the petition the demonstrators presented to him, on Monday, June 20.
He told them that “I bring you greetings from the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, from the Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. Indeed the president is a listening President he cares about all and he takes more matters seriously no matter how small they may seem or appear in the eyes of all.
“I can assure you that the content and your petition will reach the office of the President in earnest. On behalf of the office of the president, may I, as the servant of the Greater Accra Region Chairman of the REGSEC, express to express our profound gratitude to all of you for the way and manner you have conducted yourselves in this demonstration.”
Led by the Patriotic Muslims Front, the demonstrators, many of whom may not make it to Mecca want the president to intervene by dissolving the Hajj Board.
A member of the group Abdul Nashiru Zakaria told 3fm that the Hajj Board has also failed to provide figures for the various components.
2019 called for a thorough audit of the hajj board account but failed.
Some concerned prospective pilgrims earlier called for the head of the Hajj Board, Sheikh Ibrahim Cudjoe Quaye to follow what they described as deception regarding the fees.
They explained that in 2020 when the Hajj was suspended following the outbreak of the coronavirus, they were assured that they would not pay any fee again when the Hajj resumes in the future.
They were told, in a joint communique signed by Board Chairman I. C. Quaye and Chairman of the Ghana Hajj Agents Association, that the “pilgrims who via their agents, wish to retain their hajj fee deposits with the hajj board (for 2020 hajj), will be exempted from paying any increment in the hajj fare for 2022”
But, according to them, the agreement had been breached by the Board.
The Ghana Hajj has officially announced the package for this year’s pilgrimage. Prospective pilgrims are to pay ¢39,000 for the journey.
Speaking to journalists in Accra, Chairman of the Ghana Hajj Board, Sheikh. I. C. Quaye said Ghana’s quota for the Islamic religious exercise has been cut down by almost 45% to make it affordable for prospective Ghanaian pilgrims.
”The Board remains resolute to deliver a successful hajj at a significantly lower price,” he reiterated.
“The Hajj Board Ghana has pulled out all the stops to make the financial expenditure much more accommodating. Again, we emphasize that with the government effort, we have arrived at a Hajj fee of GH¢39,000 for new pilgrims.
“The Hajj Board agreed that Ghanaian pilgrims who kept their fee deposits with us in 2020 and did not opt for a refund when Hajj was canceled in 2020 and 2021 to pay GH¢26,500 which requires a top-up of GH¢7,500 only. The Board has duly taken note of their faith in wanting to perform Hajj whenever a date was announced,” he stated.
He added, “In the neighboring states: Nigerian Muslims are paying a fee of N2.5 million equivalent to GH¢47,000. Ivory Coast, Benin, and Niger, their figures are in the same ballpark”.
But the aggrieved pilgrims said they have been given a raw deal because that was not the agreement the Board had with them in 2020 when the event was suspended.
Abdalla Ashir, Unit Committee Member in Nima told journalists on Thursday, June 9 that “When Hajj was called in 2020, we were told that when it resumes we would not pay any money apart from the 19,000 that we paid. But early this month, they brought their report that we are supposed to cough out another 7000 to add to what we paid in 2020. This is not good, that wasn’t the agreement.
“We all sat and agreed in 2020 that no addition, whether the prices had been increased or not, would be paid. The Hajj Board and agents, of them, agreed to that. We signed the agreement that we are not going to pay additional money but now there is a breach of contract, it is too bad.”
Issah Ali, a Social Worker also said “We have a Muslim Vice President who I expected that as this thing came up he will at least come out and say something because this is too bad.
“I think Hajj Board, they didn’t do well, there was a breach of contract because I paid in 2020 ¢19,500, equivalent to 3500 dollars, we signed that they were not going to refund the money again due to Covid. They told us that even if the dollar rises we were not going to pay anything again. We accepted it and gave money to them. When the time came for us to go to the Hajj this year they just called us and told us to pay 7000 in addition to the already paid fees. This is not fair, we feel they lied to us.”
Another also said “I paid for my mother in 2020 but we were promised that we won’t pay anything this year should the Hajj resume. Now they are asking us to pay ¢7000. we cant accept this. If they can’t send my mother to Mecca they should refund my money.”