The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), has confirmed that all arrangements to airlift 2023 prospective pilgrims to Saudi Arabia must be completed latest by June 20.
This is contained in a statement issued by the commission’s Deputy Director of Information and Publication, Mala Mousa Ubandawaki, Friday.
Ubandawaki said that all States that are scheduled to fly are on course to do so without any disruption related to visa procurement.
“We want to reiterate our commitment to transport every eligible Nigerian pilgrim to the Holy land not only in good time, but also in comfort and best welfare service.
“Our attention has been drawn to a news story that over 45,000 Nigerian pilgrims may miss this year’s Hajj as a result of non-availability of travel visas to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“The report is not only misleading, but mischievous and aimed at causing panic and apprehension among intending pilgrims in particular and the public in general.”
Ubandawaki, however, admitted that there was a technical problem relating to visa processing.
“But it has been resolved at the moment, as 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.
“Therefore, over 35,000 Nigerian pilgrims are in the Holy Land, while the remaining pilgrims are expected to be transported in the next 10 days.
“It is interesting to note that out of 75,000 slots, more than 58,000 visas are being processed for Nigerian pilgrims. Of these, 20,000 visas were issued between Thursday and Friday while the remainder will be processed by Saturday.
“Despite the hiccup, the commission is committed to concluding the airlift operation to Saudi Arabia before June 20.”
Ubandawaki said the commission had resolved to transport all pilgrims to visit Madina before Arafat, and synchronise the transportation with the available accommodation in the city.
“And not to overcrowd the place, the commission is cautious of pushing more pilgrims out.
“We want to urge our partners in the media that while it is critical for them to push the interest of Nigerian pilgrims, they should also be conscious of the fact that they might be indirectly creating worry and anxiety for the hapless pilgrims” Ubandawaki added.