Hajj: NAHCON lauds FG, stakeholders as pilgrims’ airlifting begins


*Nigerians to enjoy 5-star hotels, local meals

By Olugbenga Salami

As the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON commenced the airlifting of pilgrims for this year’s holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, it has commended the federal government for waiving numerous aviation charges as well as the airlines for their sacrifices, the States’ Pilgrims Welfare Boards and the pilgrims for their cooperation over the feat.

Speaking yesterday at the 2023 Hajj inaugural flight by pilgrims from Nasarawa State at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, the NAHCON chairman, Alhaji Zhikrullah Hassan, particularly thanked President Muhammadu Bihari for his unflinching support which “paved way for the realization of this inaugural flight.”

Alhaji Hassan, who also commended the Nasarawa State Pilgrims Welfare Board for ensuring the readiness of inaugural flight pilgrims, sympathised with the government, and the people of the state over the motor accident that occurred when some of the pilgrims were traveling on Wednesday from Nasarawa to Abuja.

The chairman disclosed that pilgrims from the country would enjoy accommodation in 5-star hotels and indigenous meals throughout the Hajj exercise in Saudi Arabia.

According to him, the commission, alongside other stakeholders were able to make the arrangements for the comfort of the pilgrims “despite the unprecedented challenge caused by the closure of the Sudan airspace, hence forcing a re-route from Nigeria to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

He also commended the federal government for waiving numerous aviation charges, the airlines for their sacrifices, the States’ Pilgrims Welfare Boards and the pilgrims for their cooperation to arrive at an amiable solution to the seeming bottleneck.

“This year, the commission had been confronted with many challenges which were thankfully managed with the support of sister agencies and other stakeholders in the Hajj Industry.

“We were able to negotiate a reasonable price for hotel accommodation in Makkah knowing fully well that numerous hotels have been demolished for futuristic development.

“Also, we have been able to maintain the standard in Madinah whereby our pilgrims are lodged in 5-star hotels within the prestigious Markaziyya vicinity surrounding the Prophet’s Mosque,” he stressed.

He added that the commission, in collaboration with the Mutawwif’s Company for Pilgrims of Non-Arab African Countries popularly known as Muassasa, have agreed that this year, our pilgrims would be served indigenous meals for their comfort and safety.

To this end, the chairman disclosed that NAHCON was able to create job opportunities for Nigerian caterers by insisting that Saudi- based caterers work in partnership with them in preparing Nigerian local cuisines for Nigerian pilgrims.

The chairman further informed that the commission hired indigenous airlines for the airlift operations in order to support them remain in business.

He, however, urged the pilgrims to be good representatives of Nigeria by abiding to the rules and regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

While commending all stakeholders for their cooperation in the Hajj arrangements so far, he said “it is now time for execution of these plans, we therefore urge you all to ensure readiness on all fronts, as you are aware, lapses in flight operations have a multiplier effect on other aspects of operations.”

He reiterated the commitment of NAHCON to ensure that “this year’s Hajj won’t be just about stories, but stories of success”, disclosing that arrangements have been concluded to ensure that the accommodation, feeding and transportation facilities on ground are the best.