As Lagos pilgrims depart for Saudi Arabia
President Muhammadu Buhari has charged officials of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims are well taken care of in Saudi Arabia.
He also warned officials saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the 2019 Hajj operations against high handedness and laxity with the welfare of Nigerian pilgrims.
President Buhari gave the warning during the inaugural flight for Hajj 2019 which had 495 pilgrims from Katsina and 20 officials at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua International Airport.
President Buhari was represented at the occasion by the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari.
The President also called on the officials to ensure that the intending pilgrims are well taken care of in the Holy land.
To the intending pilgrims, the President urged them to pray fervently for the nation saying “Nigeria needs your prayers now more than ever.
“As we focus on rebuilding our dear country, Nigeria, the Hajj presents us a unique opportunity for self reflection, brotherhood and tolerance, all in a view to foster unity and diversity as encapsulated in the spirit of the Hajj rites.
“I therefore implore you to make just use of the Hajj experience and improve your relationship with your creator and discharge your duties to your country as responsible citizens.
“Similarly, I call on NAHCON to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims are well taken care of in Saudi Arabia.
“This administration will not tolerate laxity and high handedness from any official responsible for the welfare and well being of Nigerian pilgrims.”
Meanwhile, Lagos Pilgrims participating in this year’s Holy pilgrimage in Makkah and Madinah have departed for Saudi Arabia. Also, the second and third batches of the Lagos pilgrims are at the hajj camp, Ikeja waiting to be airlifted to Madinah as at press time.
On Wednesday, 495 pilgrims from Katsina State departed Katsina to Madinah at the inaugural flight. About 90,000 of Nigerian Muslims are expected to perform the pilgrimage this year.
Lagos Amir-ul-Hajj, Dr. AbdulLateef AbdulHakeem at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja while addressing the press said the first batch of 2,270 Lagos pilgrims comprised of 248 female and 72 male were drawn from Agege Local Government (120); Ajeromi-Ifelodun (119); Alimosho (119); Amuwo-Odofin (18) while18 came from the board.
He said that the 420 pilgrims were the first batch of a total of 2,270 intending pilgrims travelling with the Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
While expressing his immeasurable joy that pilgrims from Lagos state were the first to be airlifted among the states in the South West, he stated that the flight which departed the airport at some minutes after 11.00 pm was going straight to Madinah.
This according to him would save the pilgrims the stress of travelling by road from Jedda to Madinah.
The Amir-ul-Hajj added that Lagos pilgrims would be airlifted back-to-back from Wednesday 10th till July 16 when the exercise is expected to be concluded.
Also speaking, the Chairman Ad-hoc committee for the 2019 Hajj operation, Alh. Ahmed Jebe, commended the board for the success recorded with the inaugural flight.
He assured that the welfare of the pilgrims while in Saudi Arabia especially in the area of accommodation, feeding and health provisions would be paramount to the committee.
The pilgrims departed the airport with Airbus A330 operated by flynas and was expected to land safely in Madinah on Thursday at 7.00 am Saudi Arabian time.