The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says a new rule to mandate the movement of intending pilgrims in Madinah to Makkah after five days would take effect from June 8, 2023.
In a press statement issued by Mousa Ubandawaki, Deputy Director, Information and Publications, NAHCON, on Monday, the commission noted that the policy becomes imperative following the complaint of overcrowding of Nigerian intending pilgrims in the City of Madinah.
Muslim News gathered that Nigerian intending pilgrims stay for 8 days in the city of Madinah, which houses the second holiest mosque on earth.
NAHCON said to avoid sanctions from the state’s authorities against Nigeria, it would peg the number of days intending pilgrims can spend in Madinah at five.
“It is important to note that for the first time in a long time, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) is giving 100 percent Nigerian pilgrims the opportunity to visit Madinah in the first phase or before Arafat,” the statement read.
“However, to achieve this and in order to avert sanctions against the country if there are pilgrims overcrowding in Madinah, the Commission had to adopt the new policy, after wide consultations and exhaustive deliberations.
“Moreover, it is a known fact that Nigerian pilgrims live in the exclusive Markaziyya area during their stay, a decision which has been overwhelmingly commended and for which the Commission never intended to compromise.
“However, if the policy must be sustained, then the number of days our pilgrims must stay in Madinah had to be reduced. As it is well known that hajj is fast changing with new development and realities, if the Commission must achieve the objectives of making the 2023 hajj seamless and comfortable for our pilgrims, it is important to synchronize the airlift of pilgrims to the holy land with the bed space available, so that the Commission won’t be penalised for airlifting more pilgrims into Madinah than the available accommodation or be forced to take the pilgrims to another area which are well below the standard of the current Markaziyya.”
The commission reiterated its commitment to ensuring that Nigerian pilgrims get quality welfare services, stating the new policy is a tough decision but it is in the overall interest of the intending pilgrims.
It also appealed for the understanding and support of the intending pilgrims and other hajj stakeholders for the successful implementation of the new policy.
“As tough a decision this may seem, we felt it is a necessary action we need to take, so that we won’t be at the receiving end of Saudi laws and at the same time, it was considered more utilitarian for Nigerian intending pilgrims to spend five days in Madinah, thereby allowing more pilgrims to travel to Madinah in the first phase from where they would be moved to Makkah to continue with their hajj rites, than to delay their departure for wants of bed spaces in the Prophet’s city.
“We therefore crave the understanding and support of the pilgrims, hajj officials and indeed stakeholders for the successful implementation of this policy. We should not give up the gains we have so far achieved.
“While reiterating our commitment to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims receive the best quality service in terms of facilities and welfare, the Commission is left with no choice than to adopt this measure in the overall interest of the Nigerian pilgrims.”
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