Diasporian News of 2014-05-06

NPP UK Nasara Bemoans The Inexcusable High Cost Of Hajj

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, it is the opportunity for any Muslim with the means to renew his faith and strengthen his bond with his creator. Hajj is therefore very central to the Islamic faith. The performance of Hajj is undoubtedly the dream of every living Muslim. However, the increasing exorbitant cost for successive Hajj over the years is denying millions of Ghanaian Muslims the ability to embark on this pilgrimage. Below is a graphic account of the year on year rise in the cost of performing the Hajj. Cost of Hajj from 2008 to 2014 Year Amount (GHC) 2008 3,300 2009 4,300 2010 4,600 2011 4,900 2012 5,400 2013 6,800 2014 10,000 It is evident from the above statistics that between2008 to 2014, the cost of Hajj has shot up by more than 6,700 New Ghana Cedis. This represents over 200% increment within a period of 7 years. No doubt that this parlous state of affairs is due to the fact that Pres John Mahama and his NDC administration have been unable to stabilise the value of the cedi against the major currencies. Thus Ghanaian pilgrims will pay GHC 3200 more this year, than they paid in 2013! Notably, in recent weeks, the rate at which the cedi depreciates against the US dollar is alarming. For instance, in the last week of April, at the time the Hajj fare for 2014 was announced, the exchange rate of the US dollar to the Cedi was $1=2.80. Today (one week from the announcement), the dollar now sells at $1- 2.89 Cedis. Since the Hajj fare is quoted in US dollar, this effectively means that the cost to the Ghanaian pilgrim has increased by GHC 301(0.09*3450) within a period of one week after the announcement of the Hajj fare. One can only imagine the final cost of this year’s Hajj to the Ghanaian pilgrim in the coming weeks, if the alarming depreciation of the cedi is not controlled. The percentage increase in the Hajj fare between 2013 and 2014 is a whopping 47%. Yet the NDC government tells Ghanaians that the current inflation rate increment is about 16%. If so, why this gross disparity in inflationary percentage rise for the Hajj as against other areas affected by inflation? Could President John Mahama please explain to Muslims why this disparity prevails under his watch? We ask this question bearing in mind that during the electioneering campaign, the president asked Northerners/ Muslims to vote for him because he was one of us – “I am one of you”. When the 2012 presidential results came through, it was obvious Northerners/Muslims heeded to JDM’s ‘brotherly’ call. Mr. President we of the Nasara community demand to know the justification for this treatment against your own kith and kin who, thus far, have been loyal to you and your party. Considering that Hajj is an annual event in a country where Islam is the second most practiced religion, and under successive NDC administrations, expectedly, a lot more ought to have been done for the Islamic community by now. With this alarming annual rate of increment in Hajj fare, it is obvious that many more Muslims would be unable to honour this sacred pillar of faith. Nasara NPP UK branch strongly believe we would be justified in asking ourselves if the NDC, really, is a party Ghanaian Muslims/Northerners can trust? As the table above clearly demonstrates, under the NDC administration, especially over the past five years, Ghanaians, and Muslims in particular, have been systematically exploited with high inflation and a relentless rising cost of living. This has the net effect of disabling poor but devout would-be pilgrims from performing their cherished religious obligation, The Hajj. Dear brother John, why do you seek to exploit poor Muslims who have worked hard for years to save money to be able to carry out this basic religious obligation just to finance the lavish and corrupt lifestyle of you and your government officials? As if the abysmal transit conditions Muslim pilgrims are subjected to at Hajj village, or El Wak whilst waiting for their flight to Mecca is not stressful enough, we now have the unwarranted situation of these exorbitant annual, and now, daily increases in the cost of performing the Hajj. We therefore call on President John Mahama and the NDC government to as a matter of urgency introduce measures to arrest this regrettable and inexcusable exorbitant increments in Hajj fares. For instance, the government can guarantee the first quoted ticket cost of the Hajj, ensuring it is not subsequently affected by other inflationary measures. This will be a necessary first step in protecting poor but devout would-be pilgrims from the risk of being priced out of their religious mission. NPP UK Nasara and elsewhere, have always and will continue to draw attention to all anti Islamic and anti Northern tendencies and attitudes perpetrated by the NDC party and government. This 47% increment of Hajj cost in just a period of one year, is indeed further evidence of such attitudes. NPP UK Nasara Branch are in consultation with our Sheikhs and Imams for advice on the appropriateness of declaring the entire Hajj period of 2014 a period of mourning. We shall be back because, ‘I am one of you so vote for me’ – JDM – is presiding over this daylight robbery of Muslims/Northerners. We will hold him personally accountable when he next comes pleading his lineage to the Nasara community. Signed by the executive body of NPP UK Branch NasaraSource: NPP UK Branch Nasara
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