By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
A 60-year old female pilgrim from Lagos State to this year’s hajj, Mrs. Oni, popularly called Dangote, has died in Mina, Saudi Arabia.
Three other Lagos State pilgrims were hospitalised after eating the loaf of bread distributed by the state pilgrims’ welfare board for breakfast.
Dangote, a politician from ward “A” in Mushin Local Government Area of the state died in her sleep at about 1a.m. after observing prayers.
A source on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia told Vanguard that Oni went into prayers after her dinner, only to be found dead few hours later.
A fellow pilgrim from Mushin, who spoke under anonymity said: “If not that I tried to wake her up for bath this morning (yesterday), no one would have known that Dangote had passed on.”
While few pilgrims, including the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Babatunde Fashola on Religious Matters (Islam,) Abdulhakeem Kosoko, regarded her death as a blessing to her because, “she died in the holy month and in the holy land,” others blamed it on the foods intake which they claimed were not too hygienic for consumption.
One of the pilgrims said: “If only the state government had not relied solely on the poor food provided by the Federal Government, she might not have died.”
Meanwhile, the body of Dangote which was taken away in an ambulance to one of the Saudi Arabian hospitals was rejected and returned six hours later. However, a higher medical delegation took her back to another hospital where she was accepted for certification.
On the three pilgrims hospitalised, the state government, however, denied any involvement in the contaminated food which it explained was sponsored by President Goodluck Jonathan to aid his 2011 election campaign.
The Special Adviser to the state Governor on Political and Legislative Bureau, Abdulhakeem Abdulateef, pacified the angry pilgrims in the tent of Surulere Local Government. He said: “Nigerians on hajj have always been fending for themselves.”
Abdulateef grieved that the event was taken over by the Federal Government through its Hajj Commission (NAHCON) leaving no choice for any state welfare board.
The bread, produced by Al Oumara Bakery Company, Saudi Arabia, holder of the Golden Europe Award for Quality in 2001, was immediately christened Bread Jonathan.
Abdulateef said: “President Jonathan has launched his 2011 election campaign, starting with Nigeria pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. We have gathered some of the bad bread and sent them to the Saudi authority and the NAHCON.”
It was discovered that the egg freely distributed on Monday at mountain Arafat was already spoilt, while the bread had also gone bad, thus risking health of the pilgrims.