Thirteen state governors have sponsored a total of 4,771 individuals on religious pilgrimages, spending a whopping N14.84 billion, as revealed by investigations conducted by Saturday PUNCH.
Between 2022 and 2023, media reports showed that the governors utilized state resources to sponsor both Muslim and Christian pilgrims. The breakdown indicated that in 2023, N2.53 billion was allocated to sponsor Christian pilgrims, while N7.35 billion was spent on Muslim pilgrims.
In 2022, N1.54 billion was expended on sponsoring Christian pilgrims, and N3.403 billion was used for Muslims embarking on Hajj. Although some governors claimed they had discontinued sponsoring pilgrims, the investigation indicated that many still used state funds for this purpose.
The cost of Hajj pilgrimage in 2022 was fixed at N2.44 million for those in the North and N2.49 million for those in the South, while the exact amount for Christian pilgrims in 2022 was not disclosed but estimated to be around N1 million.
Despite the country’s economic challenges and mounting domestic debts, some state governors continue to allocate significant sums to fund pilgrimages, sparking debates about misplaced priorities and the need to invest in critical sectors such as education, health, and infrastructure instead. Calls have been made to end the state sponsorship of religious pilgrimages, with critics arguing that it is a form of money laundering and an unnecessary burden on state resources.