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Saturday, January 20, 2018


Trust us Nigerians these days when it comes to condemning corruption, now that the top has made it its article of faith. Our haste knows no bounds.
Yesterday, unfortunately, on this Facebook wall and on WhatsApp, I may have rushed into accusing officials of the FCT Pilgrims Board of corruption based on what now appears to me, on further investigation, to be a wrong expectation from one of its pilgrims, who, though, still insists that the BTA exchange process is fraught with corruption. I was a bit imprudent in posting the story seeing that my source has impeccable credentials: he has served the public in various capacities for 30 year; he now a second time legislator; and he has performed hajj several times.
After interviewing a pilgrim from Kaduna who told me that she received $1000 as the highest BTA, I had cause to return to him with more questions to verify whether indeed there was such a brazen case for corruption as he earlier alleged. Before I could get his response, however, I pulled down the allegation from my wall, within an hour of posting it, and wrote a more cautious paragraph on the story, concluding it with the promise to find out more from him.
This was the first part of my latter conversation with him through WhatsApp. He wrote me saying:
"I'd want you to view the whole process as a design to misuse the subsidy of $1:00 to #160:00, as approved by the President. In any given circumstance, there must be an active connivance in between. Certainly, if the highest seat sold for #915,000:00 in Bauchi, there is no basis of selling same at #962,768:40, at Abuja. Note that, the seat in Abuja attracted only $1000:00 against $1,500:00 in Bauchi. You may wish to acknowledge pl."
M response to him was:
"Honourable, Allah rene
"I haven't seen the documents other than the two receipts you earlier sent, Honourable. Yet, I have the following observations and questions to make:
"1. Bauchi can pay $1500 to its pilgrims. May be the $500 was dashed to the pilgrims by the state government. You know FCT cannot afford any such largesse to its pulgrims being a federal institution.
"2. Then also a difference between Abuja and Bauchi in Hajj fare is possible because Abuja is farther than Bauchi from Jeddah and may therefore cost more. So it's possible that you, as an Abuja pilgrim, could still get only $1000 BTA even though you paid N968, 000, over N50, 000 more than your Bauchi colleagues.
"3. Pilgrims from Kaduna who paid N922, 000 also received $1000 as BTA. No largesse there because the prudent state administration is against using state resources to sponsor pilgrims and I doubt if any official under El-Rufai can attempt any sharp practice so brazenly.
"4. Did the FCT Pilgrims Board promised any of its pilgrims more than $1000 BTA when receiving pilgrims' payment or was $1000 BTA the highest offer as usual?
"5. Were you able to ask the officials why you got $1000 instead of $1500 BTA as received by your colleagues from Bauchi?
"Please help me with some answers because it seems we have wrongly accused the FCT Pilgrims Board officials in public through my publication on the social media. A retraction is important.
"I have already pulled down the allegation on my Facebook wall Facebook page within an hour of the publication yesterday and written an inconclusive story on the same media before further clarification from you.
AU Tilde
His last response:
Masha-Allah. Doctor, I can't raise false alarm to ridicule eithe; you or the FCT.
The minimum fare charged by FCT was #784,000 and attracted a BTA of $750:00. Then, how do we reconcile the payment of $750:00 to someone who paid in #922,768:00?
I raised an alarm, right there at the Hajj Camp in Abuja but was told/requested to pipe down to see their next move.
The fact of the matter remains that there's a maximum BTA seat and was sold below a Million Naira!
Please, reason with me and accept my apologies, should I have misled you into making false accusations against the FCT MPWB. Barka da asuba.
At this juncture, I solicit the FCT Muslim Pilgrims Board officials to explain matters to Pilgrims BTA to their pilgrims and the public as well. If the pilgrims still feel unconvinced, they can appeal for an investigation.
If anyone can help me with a telephone number of one of the officials, I will be very glad.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

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