By Kenneth Ehigiator
President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua has extended his heartfelt appreciation to Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State for the assistance given the Federal Government in ensuring smooth airlift of Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
The presidentâ€™s gratitude came as former deputy governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Lateefat Okunnu, and Senator Muniru Muse expressed happiness over the seamless airlift of pilgrims for this yearâ€™s Hajj, especially in Lagos.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Aviation, Capt. Shehu Usman Iyal, who witnessed the airlift of another set of 540 pilgrims from the state at the Murtala Muhammed Airport yesterday, President Yarâ€™Adua said since Lagos State had become a model for successful airlift, other states of the federation should emulate its example.
He noted that the airlift this year had been very smooth across the country so far, unlike in the previous years when the exercise was plagued with problems.
President Yarâ€™Adua charged the pilgrims to be of good conduct while in the Holy land, saying: â€œ You are very good ambassadors of Nigeria and my message for you is that you should remember your good behaviour and attitude will help portray the image of the country in good light.â€
On her part, former deputy governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Lateefat Okunnu, who said she was highly impressed about this yearâ€™s airlift, assured that the return journey from Saudi Arabia would be as seamless as the journey from Nigeria.
Alhaja Okunnu, who is also a board member ofÂ National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), said the commission would insist on its new luggage policy to prevent hiccup in the process, and thanked all relevant aviation agencies, including FAAN, SAHCOL, NAHCO, NCAA and NAMA for their effectiveness so far.
In his remark, Senator Muniru Muse who was impressed on the seamlessness of the yearâ€™s Hajj airlift, said Nigeria had never had it so good in airlift of pilgrims to the Holy land, and thanked all those who made it possible.
Chief Executive Officer of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, attributed the success largely to the reforms introduced by the Amirul Hajj, Senator Kanti Bello.
He said the airline would insist on the use on the return journey from Saudi Arabia the manifest method adopted in Nigeria to avoid crisis of the past.
Of the 8818 pilgrims the airline is airlifting from the Lagos zone, comprising those from Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Oyo and Osun, 4, 762 have, as at yesterday, been airlifted to the Holy land.