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Hajj: Announce date of inaugural flight now, group tasks NAHCON



Nigerian hajj pilgrims

A faith based civil society organization, CSO that monitors and reports Hajj activities, the Independent Hajj Reporters, IHR has called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON to announce the date of the commencement of transporting Nigerian intending pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this year’s holy pilgrimage.

IHR said almost all major Hajj participating countries have announced the date of their inaugural flights with less than 10 days to the commencement of airlift of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia by all participating countries

The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammed, said it has always been a tradition in Nigeria for NAHCON, to announce the date, venue and which states’ pilgrims will be transported during the county’s inaugural flight to Saudi Arabia.

“We are sad to note that with just a few days left until the closure of the e track portal for visa issuance, NAHCON is yet to announce when and where the inaugural flight will take place,” Muhammed stated.

According to the CSO, the top five Hajj countries have so far announced when they will begin transporting their pilgrims.

“Indonesia’s Director General of Hajj and Umrah Organizations, Hilman Latief in a statement recently, said the first batch of Indonesian Hajj pilgrims will depart for the Amir Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz International Airport (AMAA) in Medina on May 12–23, 2024,”

“The second batch will depart for the King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAAIA) in Jeddah from May 24 to June 10. Also, Bangladesh and Pakistan announced 9th May as date of commencement of airlift while Malaysia will start airlift on May 11, even the Ghana Hajj board has publicly announced 18th of May as the date to kick start airlifting of its pilgrims,” he informed.

IHR said “it is beginning to get apprehensive over the deliberate withholding of vital information from pilgrims whose interests the commission and States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards are to serve all the time”, pointing that NAHCON as the apex hajj regulatory body is responsible for selecting and coordinating airlifts of Nigeria pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and back.

“Nigerian registered pilgrims comprise civil servants, farmers, businessmen and women and entrepreneurs. Each pilgrim is expected to spend a minimum of 28 to 30 days in Saudi Arabia and as such they need timely information on their departure dates to make adequate provision for their families and dependants.

“While we acknowledge the ‘shortage of time’ inherited by this board due to the ‘unnecessary wastage of precious time’ by the former board of the commission before announcing the commencement of 2024 Hajj registration, we believe that announcing the date of the commencement of airlift will allow intending pilgrims to plan properly and not to be caught unaware within few days in a rush hour mode,” IHR said.

The statement recalled that the group had earlier urged NAHCON to maintain its tradition of announcing the Basic Traveling Allowance, BTA that will be given to each pilgrim in order to allow them make adequate financial plans and also exhibit accountability on the part of the commission.

“As at the time of penning down this statement, NAHCON and States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards have refused to tell the pilgrims officially how much they will receive as BTA,” the group lamented.