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Why 2022 hajj operation had hiccups — NAHCON

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said the hiccups experienced in the 2022 hajj pilgrimage were due to the emergency attached to it as…

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said the hiccups experienced in the 2022 hajj pilgrimage were due to the emergency attached to it as the commission had no enough time to plan adequately for it.

The Chairman of NAHCON, Zikrullah Hassan, stated this in Abuja during the graduation ceremony of the first set of the Hajj Institute’s trainees.

The Saudi authorities had, in 2020 and 2021, restricted the hajj pilgrimage to only fully-vaccinated Saudi residents to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In 2022, the Saudi government increased the hajj pilgrimage capacity to one million, allowing both foreign and domestic pilgrims to participate in the exercise.

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But many stakeholders said last year’s hajj had the shortest notice and preparations coupled with many innovations introduced by the Saudi authorities, which caused some hitches in the hajj administration.

In Nigeria, the 2022 hajj operation hitches resulted in the late airlifting of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, which the commission attributed to the failure of the airlines to fulfill the airlift agreement and slow visa processing.

As a result of these hiccups, only 40,000 of the anticipated 43,000 Nigerians were airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the hajj after the kingdom granted Nigeria a landing lease permit extension of July 6.

The NAHCON boss said the 2022 hajj bore all the hallmarks of emergency with some failures recorded in the exercise.

“Last year, we labeled it an emergency. It was not surprising because it has its consequences,” he said.

Hassan assured that this year’s hajj operation would be better as the commission has ample time to prepare adequately.

“This year, we are running a normal hajj, and by Allah’s grace, we are on top of the situation. The board will approve the airlines that will take pilgrims to the Holy Land very soon, which will be more than two months before the inaugural flight,” he said.

He also said the commission would announce the hajj fare by the end of this month immediately after government approval.

“I am convinced that this year will be a wonderful experience for all of us who are in the hajj family,” he added.

Hassan, who is among the graduating students, said the institute was established to educate on a new form of hajj management in the country and set an example in the African continent.

The rector of the institute, Professor Nasir Maiturare, said 20 students had graduated and urged them to use the knowledge gained to ensure pilgrims’ satisfaction at every stage of the hajj process.

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