*Holds prayer for Nigeria at Arafat
By Ishola Balogun, Saudi Arabia
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has apologised to 1,809 intending pilgrims who missed the current hajj exercise as well as the state pilgrims boards and Private Tour Operators.
In a statement signed by Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Hajia Fatima Sanda Usara, the commission said:
“The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) humbly acknowledges the following: that it owes deep and unreserved regrets to entire intending pilgrims to 2022 Hajj for the hardships and disappointments experienced during outbound airlift operations to the holy land.
“The Commission offers similar apologies to the federal government of Nigeria, State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards, Private Tour Operators, and the general public for any embarrassment the situation of the past few weeks might have caused.
“Sadly, despite all efforts to airlift all Nigerian intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2022 Hajj, NAHCON was incapacitated in discharging this responsibility fully, majorly due to last minute setbacks that frustrated its plan to conclude airlift of pilgrims by 27th June of this year.
“Unfortunately, the chartered flights option that gave so much hope to NAHCON and the Private Tour Operators’ leadership also became a failure as their IBAN accounts failed accreditation by the respective authorities in Saudi Arabia.
“Specifically, the following numbers of affected pilgrims would not make it to Saudi Arabia before closure of Jeddah airport, hence they are sadly bound to miss this year’s Hajj.
“They are: 12 pilgrims from Bauchi state; 97 pilgrims from Plateau state; 700 pilgrims from Kano state and an estimated 1000 pilgrims from the Private Tour Operators sector.
“The Commission gives assurance that all affected pilgrims will be refunded their Hajj fares while it will work towards improving its deficiencies against next time.
“NAHCON has learnt a lot of lessons and is determined not to have a repetition of the unfortunate situation.
“Management knows that no number of apologies could pay for the disappointments some Muslim faithful are currently experiencing as a result.”
Meanwhile, a prayer was held for peace and development of the country at the plains of Arafat.
The prayer which was held in different Nigerian languages was conducted by prominent Islamic scholars with the leadership of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in attendance.
The prayer points were insecurity, poverty, and successful 2023 election.
Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, NAHCON Chairman, had earlier called for a national rebirth to make Nigeria attain its full potentials in the comity of nations.
He called for prayers for a successful 2023 elections where only leaders that can change the fortunes of Nigeria will emerge.
“We need serious prayers to keep our nation as one, to curb the current insecurity and improve the standard of living of all citizens.
“Nigeria will Insha Allah be great in all aspects with fervent prayers by citizens. We are using this period of Arafat, which is a special day, to pray for the success of our country in all ramifications,” he said.
Hassan said that it was still with deep sense of appreciation that about 90 per cent of intending pilgrims were able to perform Hajj this year.
He said that NAHCON would continue to improve on its services in spite of the emergency nature of the 2022 Hajj operations.