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Hajj 2023: NAHCON Chief commends FG, airlines, others as pilgrims’ airlift begins

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Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, delivering speech at 2023 Inaugural flight flag-off in Abuja yesterday.

Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan has expressed deep appreciation to the Federal Government and other stakeholders for helping to remove impediments that would have hampered the airlift of Nigerian pilgrims for this year’s Hajj.

He spoke yesterday at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, at the ceremony marking the 2023 Hajj inaugural flight to Saudi Arabia.

At the programme presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, Alhaji Hassan thanked Allah for making the day a reality.

“We also wish to express our deep gratitude to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR whose unflinching support paved the way for the realisation of this inaugural flight today,” he added.

Congratulating the pilgrims, many of whom he noted “must have been waiting for years to witness this day when they will be airlifted to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj,” he said the day was a memorable one “because all the plans that have been put on ground for the smooth takeoff of the 2023 Hajj have not gone in vain. ”

The NAHCON Chairman noted that “This year, the Commission had been confronted with many challenges which were thankfully managed with the support of sister agencies and other stakeholders in the Hajj Industry.”

He disclosed that “We were able to negotiate a reasonable price for hotel accommodation in Makkah knowing fully well that numerous hotels have been demolished for futuristic development. Also, we have been able to maintain the standard in Madinah whereby our pilgrims are lodged in 5-star hotels within the prestigious Markaziyya vicinity surrounding the Prophet’s Mosque.”

Alhaji Hassan added that “Thankfully, despite the unprecedented challenge caused by the closure of the Sudan airspace hence forcing a re-route from Nigeria to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we give gratitude to the Almighty for leading us to a smooth resolution of the quagmire. We appreciate the federal government for waiving numerous aviation charges, the airlines for their sacrifices, the States’ Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards and our Pilgrims who all cooperated to arrive at an amicable solution to the seeming bottleneck.”

The NAHCON Chairman added that “Similarly, the Commission, in collaboration with the Mutawwif’s Company for Pilgrims of Non-Arab African Countries popularly known as Muassasa, have put in place mechanisms for the comfort and safety of our pilgrims. We have agreed that this year, our pilgrims would be served indigenous meals.”

He noted that “To this end, the Commission created job opportunities for our Nigerian caterers by insisting that Saudi-based caterers work in partnership with them in preparing Nigerian local cuisines for our pilgrims.  Hiring indigenous airlines for the airlift operations is the Commission’s way of promoting local airlines to remain in business.”

Urging Nigerian pilgrims “to be good representatives of Nigeria by abiding by the rules and regulations of our host country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he commended the Custodians of the Two Holy mosques for their hospitality to pilgrims from all over the world.

“Truly they pride themselves as hosts to the Guests of the Most Merciful and they must be commended for playing this role well,” he said.

-Guardian

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