By Rasheed Abubakar, Makkah
– First time in 10 years NAHCON will airlift completely over 95,000 contingents to Saudi Arabia
– NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan says the last of the tour operators pilgrims chartered airplane leaves Lagos 2:00am
– Calls on any intending pilgrim properly documented to join the last flight containing only officials, leaving Abuja for the Kingdom before 2:00pm on Saturday.
–Commends leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, patient and resilient spirit of airlines.
“The entirety of the state pilgrims, the last of which I, the leadership of the National Hajj Commission is going to be part, are going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, tonight, “. These were the words of Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, the Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, on Friday night.
He said this before the departure of the final flight of Nigerian intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2023 hajj.
Speaking with journalists at the pilgrims terminal of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja during the end of phase one airlifting of pilgrims last night, Alhaji Hassan expressed gratitude to Almighty Allah, followed by the President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the airlines and the entire hajj commission for the successful operations despite the initial challenges.
According to him, There are many things for us to be grateful for. This year’s operation is about the first time in ten years that we are going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a total number of over 95,000. It has taken a while for Nigerian pilgrims to get this number.
“And the beauty of it is that despite the number, we can airlift all states’ pilgrims. I must say that even those of the tour operators who are challenged, by 2:00 am tomorrow (Saturday, Nigerian time) in shaa Allah, the last of the tour operators’ pilgrims chartered airplanes will leave Lagos.
“We are safe to conclude that everyone part of the operation managed and micro-managed by NAHCON as far as airlift is concerned is going to be in the Kingdom and partake in the Arafat. We are indeed grateful to Allah for allowing this to take place.”
The Commission chairman called on any intending Nigerian pilgrim who has been properly documented to join the last flight of officials, leaving Abuja for the Kingdom before 2 pm on Saturday.
He said, “We have a 2 pm tomorrow (Saturday, Nigerian time) flight. It’s the final flight and it consists of no pilgrims but NAHCON staff and some stakeholders. It was shifted to that time to accommodate any Nigerian pilgrim from any part of the country who has a visa and valid travel documents but was unable to get airlifted. They should just try and make it to Abuja, as long as their documents are cleared and authenticated. I assure you they would be airlifted with that aircraft to the holy land.
“I am calling on any pilgrim wherever they are, as long as they are properly documented, to join the last flight leaving Nigeria by 2 pm from Abuja today (Saturday, Nigerian time).
He commended the sterling leadership quality of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu which he said saw them through during their challenging period.
According to him, there had been times when we were very frightened. When transferring funds became difficult including the processing of visa and for almost two days, we were afraid we were going to halt the flight but we still overcane the challenges. We didn’t just overcome because we were able to do so, all our challenges were possibly overcome because we had the support of my president and his vice, who were with us at all times during the difficulties. On behalf of NAHCON, we are very grateful to them.”
Alhaji Hassan lauded the patience and resilient spirit of the airlines during their airlifting operations.
He said, “our challenges are overcome and our frowns turn smiles. I must salute the patience and spirit of accommodation that was displayed by the airlines. It was tough. We couldn’t get them to pay on time, yet they were resilient and in the end, we are happy and indeed grateful to Allah.”
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