Buy One Get One Free: CBN’s Forex Scheme For Hajj Pilgrimage.

There has been a lot anger especially on social media following the CBN circular on subsidising Forex for Hajj pilgrimage.

The government of President Buhari didn’t think of using the subsidy program to encourage small businesses that want to import machines to grow their operations or even develop the so called agriculture this administration has been shouting about.

All we hear is talks about growing agriculture and local small businesses with no action but when it comes to religious activities it is less talk with real and immediate action.

Imagine, a person who wants to start small agro-processing business (or any type of manufacturing). He will import machines at 400 Naira per dollar (I haven’t seen anyone who has been able to buy at the official interbank rate) while some religious people are getting it at N197.

I should also add that the Christians got FX subsidy during Jerusalem pilgrimage as well. It was sold to them at N160/$ (official rate was N197 then). Not to even mention that we had to close the country down a whole day because some people couldn’t decide whether they wanted to do 29 or 30 days of Ramadan fast.

The person (doing business) will employ workers, pay taxes, increase GDP etc. Yet no form of support. Religion on the other hand does not do anything significant but gets all the supports. I’m sure you know that no church or mosque pays taxes in this country. How many of them even have audited books with all the money they make?

The point to make here is these (in)actions tell a lot about where the priority of Nigerians and indeed the government lies. Even though earlier reports had it that President Buhari’s administration won’t be using public funds for funding religious matters. This is another broken promise.

At the rate of N400/$ the government is paying pilgrims extra 500 USD for every 500 USD they buy (in real terms). Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF). This administration would have succeeded in spending over N15.4billion on subsidizing religious pilgrims should all the 65,167 & c66,000 Muslim and Christian Pilgrims respectively decide to take advantage of this scheme.

For the benefit who haven’t read Quran before, it is important to point out that the Holy Book rightly says that going to Hajj is not compulsory if you cannot afford it. Why bother if it puts a strain on you? Why use public funds to subsidise what my friend calls "Personal Religious Vacation" in Israel or Saudi Arabia?

Has the government of this country thought about the fact that it is developing tourism in another country by sponsoring or subsidising a few people at the expense of all?

Let me say unequivocally that the choice to go to Mecca or Jerusalem, or even be a Christian or a Muslim at all, is a personal matter and should be treated as such.

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