Despite fear that majority of Nigerian intending pilgrims to this year hajj exercise may not be part of the annual spiritual exercise in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the crisis of male companion for female pilgrims which has led to return of some female pilgrims to the country, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has said that it is working round the clock to ensure that all pilgrims are airlifted to Saudi Arabia before the closure of the two airports at the Kingdom.
The Saudi authority has set aside October 20 as the closing day for arrival of pilgrims into the King Abdulazeez international airport, Jeddah and Prince Mohammed airport, Madinah.
But while briefing press in Abuja yesterday after an emergency stakeholders meeting, the NAHCON chairman, Mallam Mohammed Musa Bello said that the Commission is making remarkable progress in the airlifting of the pilgrims.
He said that the Commission would within the remaining 17 days to the closure of the two airports ensure that all pilgrims are airlifted to Saudi Arabia.
His words: “We are making progress; already we have airlifted 47,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, remaining about 45 per cent of the entire pilgrims’ population. As you know the airport is going to close on the 20th, we have 17 days. As a matter of fact, we need to move about 45000 pilgrims in 17 days.
God willing every pilgrim will go to Saudi Arabia as scheduled. Our appeal is to all the officers of the states pilgrims’ welfare board to ensure that all the documents of their pilgrims are in order. Any pilgrim whose documents appear not to be in order would be kept one side and allow those whose documents are in order so that everybody would go without any hitch.
I want to use this medium to say we are very pleased with the progress, because as a matter of fact. The carriers are always ready because the delay did not come from them, they have deployed the right type of aircrafts, all wide bodies and they have been operating according to schedule”
He emphasised that the state pilgrims’ welfare boards should ensure that pilgrims travelling documents are in order noting that any pilgrim whose documents are not in order would be set aside to pave way for others.
Mallam Bello also urged them to comply with the circulars earlier sent to them regarding the marching of female pilgrims with their appropriate Muharrams and ensure that they travel together in the same flight.