NAHCON to complete Nigerian pilgrims airlift June 20
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has disclosed that the ongoing airlift of Nigerian pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 2023 Hajj exercise would be completed before June 20.
The NAHCON’s Deputy Director, Information and Publications, Mousa Ubandawaki, made this known in a statement on Friday, noting that not less than 36,841 Nigerian pilgrims have been airlifted by the Hajj body as of 1 pm on Friday.
While reacting to a reports that over 45,000 Nigerian pilgrims may miss this year’s Hajj as a result of the non-availability of visas to Saudi Arabia, Ubandawaki, said it was “not only misleading but mischievous aimed at causing panic and apprehension among intending pilgrims in particular and the public in general.”
He explained that despite the fact that the process of securing visas for the intending pilgrims was ongoing, the issuance of visas to state pilgrims in the last two days had been smooth.
He said, “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.”
Ubandawaki said that of the 75,000 slots allocated to states and the armed forces, more than 58,000 visas had been issued to Nigerian pilgrims so far, noting that of the figure, 20,000 were issued between Thursday and Friday.
“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, 20,000 visas were issued between yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday), while the remainder will be processed by tomorrow (Saturday).
“Despite the hiccup, the Commission is committed to concluding the airlift operation to Saudi Arabia before the 20th of this month,” Ubandawaki stated.
He stated further that all states scheduled to fly their pilgrims to the Holy Land are doing so without any hindeance relating 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,” he further stated.
Ubandawaki, however, reassured NAHCON’s commitment to airlifting every eligible Nigerian pilgrim to the Holy Land they wouy be given the best welfare service.
“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 pilgrim to the Holy land not only in good time but also in comfort and best welfare service,” Ubandawaki stated.