The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has pledged that all remaining intending pilgrims from Nigeria will be airlifted to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the next 10 days, saying that over 35, 000 pilgrims are already the Holy Land.
The Commission also added that over 58,000 visas have been processed so far for Nigerian pilgrims, saying that 20,000 out of the figure were issued between Thursday 8th and Friday 9th of June, 2023 , assuring that the remaining visas will be issued tomorrow Saturday.
Reacting to a report from the nationally daily that says “over 45000 Nigerian pilgrims may miss this year’s Hajj, as a result of non-availability of travel visas to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, NAHCON described the report as very misleading and mischievous aimed at causing panic and apprehension among intending pilgrims in particular and the public in general.
The commission according to a statement signed by its Deputy Director, Information and Publications, Alhaji Mousa Ubandawaki, promised that every eligible Nigerian pilgrim would be airlifted to the Holy land not only in good time but also in comfort and best welfare service.
“This report is not only misleading but mischievous aimed at causing panic and apprehension among intending pilgrims in particular and the public in general.
“We therefore urge the public and the pilgrims to disregard the news report which is meant to cause disaffection, panic and anxiety among Nigerians. We want to reiterate our commitment to airlift every eligible Nigerian pilgrims to the Holy land not only in good time but also in comfort and best welfare service.
“Truly, there was a technical problem relating to the visa processing, but it has been resolved at the moment, visa processing is ongoing. In the last two days, visas to state pilgrims have been steady, and no flight has been cancelled due to visa issues. Thus far, over 35000 Nigerian pilgrims are in the Holy Land, while the remaining pilgrims are expected to be airlifted in the next 10 days.
“It is interesting to note that out of 75,000 slots more than 58,000 visas have been processed so far for Nigerian pilgrims. Of these, 20000 visas were issued between yesterday and today while the remaining will be processed by tomorrow. Despite the hiccup, the Commission is committed to concluding the airlift operation to Saudi Arabia before the 20th of this month.
“As a matter of fact, all the states that are scheduled to fly are on course to do so without any disruption related to visa procurement. Moreover, considering our resolve to airlift all our pilgrims to visit Madina before Arafat and the need to synchronize the airlift with the available accommodation in the city and not to overcrowd the place the commission was cautious of pushing more pilgrims out.
The commission, while saying that it is critical for the media to push the interest of Nigerian pilgrims, urged the men of the pen profession to also be conscious of the fact that they might be indirectly creating worry and anxiety for the hapless pilgrims.