The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has completed the airlift of Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for this year’s hajj just as it expressed gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his support.
The NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, made this known while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Friday.
Hassan spoke at the Pilgrims Terminal of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja before the take off of the final flights of Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, marking the end of Phase 1 airlifting of pilgrims for 2023 hajj.
The Chairman said: “This year’s operation is about the first time in 10 years when we are going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a total number of over 95,000.
“It has taken a while for Nigeria pilgrims to get this number.
“And the beauty of it is that despite the number, we are able to airlift all the pilgrims of the states
“And l must say that even those of the tour operators who are challenged, by 2am after midnight today the last of tour pilgrims will leave Lagos.”
Alhaji Hassan stated further that the Commission was safe to conclude that every of the operation managed or micromanaged by the NAHCON as far as airlift was concerned would be in the Kingdom and be able to be part of Arafah this year.
While thanking Allah, the Chairman added that there would a 2pm flight on Saturday.
He said: “That 2 o’clock flight will be the final flight.
“It consists of no pilgrims.
“Just our staff and some stakeholders.
“We decided to make it 2 o’clock in the event that any Nigerian who has visa and proper documents is anywhere in the country.
“All he needs to do is to get to Abuja Saturday morning and once his documents proven that he’s indeed a bonafide registered hajj pilgrim with visa, he would be carried in that aircraft.”
Meanwhile, Alhaji Hassan has expressed gratitude to the President and Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, for their support during difficult times.
The Chairman said at some points “we were frightened.
“There was time when to transfer funds was difficult, processing of visa became difficult.
“All our challenges were possibly overcome because we have the support of Mr. President, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his Vice President, who were with us at all times when there were difficulties.
“On behalf of NAHCON, indeed the hajj family, we are very grateful to them.”
The Chairman equally thanked airlines for their patience and accommodation.
Hassan said the Commission could not pay the airlines in time yet the airlines were resilient and “that is why we have today to thank Allah.”
Similarly, the Chairman acknowledged the contributions of NAHCON staff and board members towards successes recorded so far.