Lagos State Government has successfully airlifted 3,655 pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Year 2023 holy pilgrimage exercise.
The safe arrival of the eleventh and last batch of 171 intending pilgrims which landed at the King AbdulAzeez International Airport, Madinah, on Wednesday, at exactly 7.45pm Saudi Arabian time, brought the first leg of the operation to conclusion.
The batch comprising of 130 males and 41 females which included paid intending pilgrims and State Government officials, departed the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria, aboard a Flynas airline flight XY5627 at 11.05 am Nigerian time.
With the arrival of the eleventh batch, the total number of pilgrims airlifted by the State is now 3,655. The first batch was 390, second 428; third 50; fourth 253; fifth 426 while the sixth flight had 417.
On the seventh flight were 415 intending pilgrims; eight 375; ninth 356; tenth 181 and the eleventh 171. In summary, the State has 2,023 female pilgrims (55.3 per cent) and 1,632 males (44.7 per cent) respectively in her contingent.
Speaking on the successful completion of the airlifting exercise, the Head of the State Hajj team, Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi expressed his delight and gratitude to Allah for the successes recorded with the first leg of the operation.
He said, “All praises and adorations are due to Almighty Allah for guiding the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board from inception to the conclusion of the exercise”, stressing that the successes recorded so far would not have been possible without His grace and mercy.
He also extended his heartfelt appreciation to the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat for their unflinching support towards the Board and the pilgrims which had greatly influenced the successes recorded with the exercise.
Elegushi appealed to the pilgrims to obey all the laid-down rules and regulations guiding their stay in the holy land, be focused on the main purpose of embarking on the journey, avoid all illegal and illegitimate dealings and conduct themselves in a civilized manner in order not to tarnish the enviable image of the State and Nigeria at large.
While reiterating that the State had done everything humanly possible towards ensuring that the pilgrims enjoy maximum comfort throughout their stay in the Kingdom, the former Commissioner for Home Affairs, gave assurances that the return journey back to Nigerian after the completion of the Hajj rites would be seamless and stress free.
On his part, the Board Chairman, Imam (Engr.) Shakiru Ayinde Gafar urged the pilgrims to leverage on the enlightenment given them by the Board in the course of the operation and perform the Hajj rites in accordance with the teachings of the holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW) so that their pilgrimage could be accepted by Allah as act of Ibaadah.
Gafar also urged them to guard the opportunity of being called to perform the Hajj jealousy, saying many who are financially and medically fit are seeking such privilege but Allah has not given them despite the fact that they can afford it.
The Secretary of the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr. Saheed Onipede commended the support and cooperations of the South West Zonal coordinator of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Alh. Gafar Odunola and his team.
He also commended the Flynas airline for the excellent services it had rendered to the state pilgrims. He particularly praised the Senior Station Manager, Flynas Lagos South West zone, Mr. Shadrach Swante Kambai for his exceptional conducts and commitments.
“Mr. Shadrach has been very consistent in his commitment to quality service delivery by ensuring that flights are brought from Saudi Arabia to convey the pilgrims promptly”, he said.
Other state functionaries aboard the flight are, Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Lateef Alogba; former Special Adviser to the Governor on Islamic matters, Alh. Ahmad Abdullahi Jebe; Hon. AbdulWaheed Shonibare (Board member); Alh. Mojeed Sanni (Board member), to mention just but few.
Recall that the state Government commenced the airlifting exercise on June 1. Thus, with the arrival of the eleventh and final batch, It has been able to complete the exercise successfully and would begin the return journey after the completion of the Hajj rites.
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