Officials from some State Pilgrims boards across Nigeria are complaining over the prolonged delay in transporting intending pilgrims from Nigeria with few days before closure of Saudi Arabian Airports for Hajj aircrafts.
Some of the officials say the delays are caused by the inability of their ICT staff to process visas for the remaining number of their pilgrims.
HAJJ REPORTERS reports that pilgrims from Kaduna and Niger states, who have been in transit Hajj camps since Thursday evening and Friday morning respectively are still waiting to be airlifted as at 1:45pm on Saturday.
HAJJ REPORTERS gathered that the inability of Niger state to airlift its first batch of pilgrims was due to issue of security challenges in the state.
After taking appropriate measure, pilgrims were eventually invited to hajj camp yesterday morning. The pilgrims which has been screened as currently at the airport waiting to be airlifted.
Efforts to get the reaction of Niger State pilgrims Boss proved abortive as his line were not going through.
In Kaduna, the fourth batch of pilgrims comprises of Kaduna South, Makarfi, Kauru and Kajuru local governments. They were invited to the camp on Thursday evening and have completed their screening since then.
Our reporter gathered that they have been kept inside a hall waiting to be transported to the airport for over 48 hours.
The pilgrims were eventually allowed leave the hall after the Executive Secretary appeal to them and have them assurance that they will be airlifted in no time.
Speaking to HAJJ REPORTERS, the Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Pilgrims Agency, Dr Yusuf Arrigasiyyu expressed his frustration on the inability of officials at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to “respond to calls especially at this critical stage of the operation”
Speaking further, he said “Look, we understand that there could be challenges but how can I as the Chief Executive of my state be calling those in charge and they will refuse to respond?
“Another challenge now is our inability to access visa on the e visa portal. Yesterday, my ICT staff slept in the office to ensure we printed visa for the remaining number of pilgrims. As at this morning, we are still unable to print the visa because they have been cancelled by the ICT department at NAHCON. My Staff are currently on their way to Abuja to sort out the challenge”. He added.
HAJJ REPORTERs report that this year’s Hajj airlift is currently enmeshed in serious operational challenges that may deprive some registered pilgrims from performing the Hajj.
However, NAHCON has absolved itself of blame. Speaking to HAJJ REPORTERS, the Commissioner in charge of Planning, Research, Statistics Information and Library PRSL Sheikh Momoh Suleman Imonikhe said most of the information being shared currently are “false and one sided”.
The Commissioner, who was reacting to comments on HAJJ REPORTERS platform blaming NACHON for the delay stated that “NAHCON has done its best to perform its own responsibility in the course pilgrims’ airlift.
“Most of the time, States pilgrims boards who are scheduled to fly will tell us that they are not ready leading to cancellation of airlift in some circumstances. Let me give you an example, NAHCON flags off airlift of Pilgrims in Borno on Thursday 9th of June. We told the Executive Secretary of the board that the next flight will be on 11th of June Saturday and he clearly told us that his pilgrims are not ready.
“When we pressed further he said “it will take him time to invite pilgrims from their villages and as such it will not be possible.
“There was a state who informed NAHCON on the verge of airlifting their pilgrims that they don’t have enough Yellow Card. NAHCON has to ask a neighbouring state to release its yellow card to them so that they fly that day,” Momoh said.
According to the NAHCON commissioner, another instance is that of FLYNAS that was scheduled to airlift about 350 pilgrims from Abuja on the 28th of June.
“When the aircraft arrives, it met only about 200 passengers and the flight has to be cancelled and rescheduled for tomorrow 3rd of July”.
Sheikh Momoh who reassured HAJJ REPORTERS that no single registered pilgrim will be left behind however stated that “it is unfair to single out NAHCON for blame in operations that is witnessing challenges globally”
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