The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, is in its 15th day of airlift back to Nigeria which started on 15th July 2022, with a record of stable progress. Compared to outbound journey from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia which recorded movement of 14, 267 pilgrims after 15 days, its corresponding figure on the return leg is currently 20, 124 and still counting for today. The airlift figures in percentage are 44.1% during the outbound airlift and over 61.1% in the inbound return leg; an over 17% improvement.
So far, six states, Benue, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Yobe and FCT have recorded 100% completion of dispatch back to Nigeria. While Adamawa and few others are on their last legs. For states like Lagos, with about 49 pilgrims left, Bauchi, 113, Borno 233, the hindrance to their complete departure is their visit to Madinah for which they are on queue.
Indeed, the Commission’s initial projection was that all pilgrims will visit Madinah during the pre-Hajj phase. Unfortunately, the late arrival of some of the country’s pilgrims during the first phase necessitated re-arrangement for the second phase. As is customary in Saudi Arabia, any mass movement of pilgrims must be captured and cleared in the Hajj portal before permit is granted. Hence, Nigeria being one among hundreds of nations obtaining similar clearance before moving its pilgrims to Madinah is doing so according to clearance granted.
Please note that pilgrims’ movement to Madinah will follow the same sequence of arrival into Saudi Arabia. Therefore, unless their return flight schedule is ascertained, pilgrims should understand that moving them into Madinah to await airlift after a longer duration may be detrimental to their ease. Hence, once their return flight and clearance is confirmed, pilgrims will be moved to Madinah.
NAHCON urges pilgrims yet to travel to Madinah to await instructions from the Commission through their state officials and not to be rigid on the schedule released to state boards; the date on the itinerary is conditional subject to confirmation of all factors. However, the disparity may not be longer than 48 hours.
NAHCON is pleased that with the faster dispatch of Hujjaj so far recorded, Nigerian pilgrims would not overstay their estimated time in Saudi Arabia.
Fatima Sanda Usara,
AD, Public Affairs,
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