The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has stated that the number of Muslims who expressed interest to go for the 2023 hajj but were not able to register due to exhaustion of the 95,000 slots given to the country showed there is the need to get more slots.
The Chairman of NAHCON, Zikrullah Hassan, in a press briefing on Friday night, marking the last flight carrying Nigerian pilgrims that go through State Pilgrim Welfare Boards, said no registered pilgrims would be left in the country.
Hassan stated that despite the challenges encountered in the course of the airlift, this would be the first time in 10 years it exhausted the slots allocated to it by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
He gave thanks to Allah for making the airlift a success without the events of last year that saw some intending pilgrims not making the journey even though they registered and paid.
“Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been making the move for us to get more slots and he mentioned it at the recent meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).
“This year’s operation is the first time in 10 years that we will be going to Saudi Arabia with the total number of over 95,000. It has taken a while for Nigerian pilgrims to reach this number. The beauty of it is that despite the number, we are able to airlift all the pilgrims of the state. Those of the tour operators who are challenged, by 2am after midnight of Saturday, the last of tour operators’ pilgrims with a chartered aircraft will leave Lagos.
“We are safe to conclude that every of the operation managed by NAHCON, as far as, airlift is concerned, they are going to be in Saudi Arabia to be part of Arafat this year,” he said.
He added that there would be another flight by 2pm om Saturday which would not contain pilgrims but officials of the commission.
He commended the selected airlines for the airlift for their patience with the several challenges faced but overcome.
“I must salute the patience and spirit of accommodation that was displayed by the airlines, it was tough, we couldn’t pay them in time bit they were resili8and that was why we have today to thank Allah,” NAHCON chairman said.
He added that the commission would pray for the peace and prosperity of the country while in the Holy Land, stating that the commission would soon begin strategizing on bringing the pilgrims back without any hassle.