Hajj 2024: First batch of intending pilgrims from Nigeria arrived Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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First flight for 2024 Hajj takes off

The first flight conveying pilgrims for 2024 Hajj from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia has departed. The FlyNas flight with 417 Kebbi pilgrims and seven officials took off at m

4: 54 pm Nigerian time. Nigeria’s Vice President, His Excellency Sen Kashim Shettima who arrived the Sir Ahmadu Bello International Airport, (SABIA) Birnin Kebbi at about 11: 15 am for the event launched the airlift exercise by 1:02pm.

Dignitaries that graced the occasion in Birnin Kebbi included royal fathers led by His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, Alh Sa’ad Abubakar III. Sen. Abubakar Sani Bello, Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sen Ali Ndume, Sen Abdul Ningi, Sen. Sahabi Alhaji Yau and former senators from Zuru, Sen Bala Ibn Na’Allah and Sen. Muhammad Magoro were also on ground for the flag off. Also present was Hon. Jafar Muhammad Ali, Chairman House Committee on Pilgrimage.The Host, Kebbi State Governor, Comrade Nasir Idris, was accompanied to the event by his Deputy Governor Sen. Umar Abubakar, Secretary to the Kebbi state Government, Yakubu Tafida, members of the State Executive Council, among others. The Hon Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, SAN and his counterpart, the Minister of State Education, Hon. Yusuf Sununu, were also present. Alhaji Faruku Aliyu Yaro-Enabo, the Chairman of Kebbi State Pilgrims’ Welfare Board was supported at the occasion by his colleagues Executive Secretaries from Adamawa, Abubakar Salisu; Plateau, Alhaji Dayyabu Dauda, Bayelsa, Ms Amira Dokubo; and Alhaji Sa’adu Hassan from Gombe.

In his speech before the flag off, Sen. Kashim Shettima disclosed that the Government of Nigeria led by President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu attaches immense importance to religious pilgrimage due to the role it plays in transforming behavioral and social lives of the believers. It is due to this high regard, he said, that this government took time to carefully select men of integrity, endowed with administrative acumen and records of selfless dedication, to manage the affairs of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria in the interest of Nigerian pilgrims. He disclosed that the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration supported this year’s pilgrimage with 90 billion Naira. He commended leadership, board members and staff of NAHCON for what he described as sacrifices they endured to see to the success of Hajj, a sacrifice, he said, no monetary reward can compensate.

The Vice President urged pilgrims to display good conduct and respect constituted authorities as representatives of Nigeria. He enjoined them to pray for the peace and progress of the country especially for an end to the insecurity witnessed in some parts of the country. Similarly, the Vice President acknowledged the tremendous work carried out by the Kebbi State Governor in the SABIA, the Kebbi state airport.

In his goodwill message, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alh Sa’ad Abubakar III thanked the federal government of Nigeria for bringing hope to the pilgrims when the exchange rate challenge became heightened. He described it as the outcome of renewed hope of this government. The Royal Father urged the pilgrims to pray positively for government and to avoid praying negatively for their leaders because the effect of such prayers always boomerangs.

Delivering his speech, the Kebbi State Governor, Dr Nasir Idris commended various Hajj managers for organizing the pilgrimage in such a manner that pilgrims will carry out their worship with concentration without distractions. He prayed that they perform a pilgrimage that will be accepted. Furthermore, the Governor reminded the gathering that last year’s airlift of Kebbi State pilgrims was carried out from Sokoto due to obstacles in embarkation point. His administration provided the necessary facilities at the SABIA airport and the state’s Hajj camp making SABIA departure center a reality this year.

Earlier, the Chairman National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Chief Host of the ceremony, Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi, described the occasion as memorable in the short life of the Fifth Board because the management was about to put to test the many strategies conceived for the safe delivery of a well-organized Hajj season. In his words, “We stand to be assessed for the promises we have made to spearhead an outing that would be recorded as one of the best in recent times”. The Chairman highlighted some of the achievements of this board among which are: securing accommodation for pilgrims in Mina closer to the Jamarat. Another achievement was the successful conclusion of visa issuance to every eligible pilgrim before commencement of the year’s airlift. The Chairman revealed that the Commission recorded a reduction in Hajj fare when calculated in Dollars.

Some measures the Commission took to cushion the effect of high Dollar rate include reduced days in Madina from eight days to four days, in addition to discounted amount in the total cost of accommodation. Another measure was reducing BTA (Basic Traveling Allowance) from 800 to 500 Dollars. The Chairman advised those who need more BTA to source the relevant currency individually.

Like the other speakers, Mallam Arabi advised the pilgrims to be obedient, be patient, to pray for Nigeria and her leaders and to pray for guidance of our youth as future leaders of our country.

Meanwhile, the Air Peace and Max Air flights scheduled to depart Abuja with FCT and Nasarawa state pilgrims were rescheduled to later hours due to delay in obtaining the pilgrims’ BTAs.

Fatima Sanda Usara,, Assistant Director, Public Affairs, NAHCON

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