The Zamfara State Pilgrims Welfare Board has recorded a low turnout of intending pilgrims for the 2019 Hajj due to the activities of bandits in the state.
The Chairman of the state pilgrims welfare board, Malam Abubakar Sarkin-Pawa, said this on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the security challenges in the state have negatively affected the number of intending pilgrims.
He said: “Yes, the security challenges somehow affected the turnout of pilgrims from Zamfara because if you could remember in 2016 we had 5,000 pilgrims from Zamfara state, in 2017 we airlifted 4,000 pilgrims.
“Now we are coming down to 1,500 pilgrims. You know most of the people that paid their hajj fare are nomadic Fulani and greater percentage of them is coming from the rural areas and they are affected by this security challenges.”
Sarkin-Pawa said that the state government had ensured that adequate security was provided to ensure safety of the pilgrims within and outside the hajj camp in Gusau, the state capital.
He said: “You know, our hajj camp is located at the centre of Gusau and you know Gusau is safe because it never had any strike from the bandits.
“We engage relevant security agencies such as the police, army and other security agencies, they are supported by the state government, to escort our pilgrims even on transit from camp to airport.”
He, however, said that the board had engaged the council of ulamas that would educate the pilgrims on the need to conduct themselves in orderly manner while in the Holyland.
He said: “Though, our pilgrims are law abiding because we have never experienced any problem with them throughout this period.”
Sarkin-Pawa said the 2019 exercise witnessed significant improvement compared to the previous year.
He said: “We try to simplify hajj operations every year, we study what happened in 2018 and introduced new changes to the 2019 exercise.
“Part of the changes we initiated is that visas are going to be printed in our state office without taking it to either Kano, Kaduna or Lagos.”