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Sunday, June 23, 2024

We’ll reduce days pilgrims spend in Saudi Arabia -NAHCON chairman

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says it has adopted a strategy to reduce the number of days Nigerian pilgrims spend in Saudi Arabia during pilgrimage.

Its Executive Chairman, Jalal Arabi, stated this on Monday in an interview with newsmen, shortly after he arrived at the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, Madinah.

Arabi explained that the commission had succeeded in transporting 100 per cent of Nigeria pilgrims direct to Madinah.

“And you know the secret? Allah helping us, if we are able to achieve this target, we hope to succeed again for the first time in reducing the number of days that Nigerians spend each time they come to perform pilgrimage.

“In the past, you see Nigerians in disarray, loitering about while their counterparts from other countries would have been evacuated back home. It is a very good starting and by God’s grace, we will get good results,” he said.

He commended the presidency and the National Assembly for their tremendous support towards the success of the ongoing hajj operations.

He also commended air carriers for living up to expectations, saying that “this is because there is trust and we didn’t lie to them. We made them to believe and they believe and they performed.

“We lack adequate words to give praises to our Creator and to thank Him, we can’t thank him enough for what he has done for us.

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“I think this day will go down in history as I don’t want to say the first time in history but the first time in a very long time since the commencement of Hajj preparations to say that 72 hours be the closure of Saudi air space, 100 per cent of our pilgrims are here.

“At least those in our cluster and we hope the tour operators too will be able to beat the target as well.

“Of course, that was able to be achieved through the cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders, both the public and the private sector.

He said that the commission had put adequate arrangements for feeding and medical care services for pilgrims at Masha’eer (core hajj rites period) which is expected to start on June 13.

“We are hopeful that the principle of Tafweej (grouping of pilgrims) will come to play where pilgrims are group for ease of movement and identification.

“Secondly, like we said we have come with a new innovation in monitoring and distribution of food which is very critical and fundamental.

“In fact, this is one of the reasons we won’t even stay in Madinah, myself and a few members of my team are now heading to Makkah to do an assessment of what happened, the report we have received based on what had happened.”

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Arabi said that tonight the commission would invite all service providers that were indicted in one way or the other to read the riot act on them.

“Because this time around, a pilgrim is a king and queen and we won’t let them be shortchange, neglected, humiliated.”

According to NAHCON boss, all Nigerian pilgrims should be patient, law abiding and be ready to worship because it is not going to be cat walk.

“From what I have seen while landing in Madinah, the weather is harsh but they (pilgrims) have been told and warned and I’m sure they are ready for it.” (NAN)

Salisu Sani-Idris
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