The Amir-ul-Hajj of Lagos State Contingents to this year’s Hajj, Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi has absolved the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the Lagos State Government of any blame on the issues of inadequate bed spaces and poor feeding in Muna, Saudi Arabia.
The immediate past Lagos Commissioner for Home Affairs disclosed this while addressing a press conference organised by the Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board to brief the press about the 2023 Hajj operations at Al Dera Hotel, Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Assistant Director (Public Affairs) of the Board, Taofeek Lawal.
According to Elegushi, the issue of poor feeding and inadequate bed spaces was caused by the Saudi Arabia authorities, stressing that the host failed to make adequate provisions for bed spaces commensurate with the number of pilgrims that participated in this year’s Hajj.
On the issue of feeding, he advised that respective States should be allowed to engage their own indigenous professional caterers to provide local delicacies for their pilgrims instead of giving the sole rights to the Arabs.
Speaking on future plans, the Amir-ul-Hajj said that with effect from next year, the Board would go digital on the sales of Hajj forms.
“As from next year, the purchase of Hajj forms, payment for Hajj fare and all processes would be done online in order to reduce paper work and time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Amir-ul-Hajj has announced that the pilgrims would start their return journey back home on the 7th of July with a ‘special flight’ expected to airlift all the elderly and those with medical challenges.
He added that the airlifting exercise would run through 8th,9th, 10th till 22nd of July when the officials would be airlifted.
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He expressed hope that having informed the pilgrims about the rules on luggage, the pilgrims would stick to the 32kg allowed by the airline for main luggage and desist from carrying water or any liquid item in their bags, saying that their ZamZam water had already been transported to Nigeria awaiting the pilgrims’ arrival.
He used the medium to express his gratitude to the Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat for their unflinching support which is immeasurable to the success of the exercise.
He also thanked the former Special Adviser to the Governor on Islamic matters, Dr. Ahmad Abdullahi Jebe; the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs,. Lolade Aina; Board Chairman, Imam (Engr.) Shakiru Ayinde Gafar; Board members; Secretary and members of staff for their support and cooperation.
He extended his gratitude to the entire pilgrims for following instructions, conducting themselves in a proper manner and being good Ambassadors of the State while in the holy land, saying that their conduct prompted the Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Yahya Lawal to describe them as the most disciplined pilgrims in the 2033 Hajj operation, during his visit to their tent in Mina.
Present at the briefing were: former SA to the Governor on Islamic matters, Dr. Ahmad Abdullahi Jebe; Board Chairman, Imam (Engr.) Shakiru Ayinde Gafar; Prof. AbdulKabir Paramole (Badagry division) and Dr. (Mrs.) Faosat Dabiri (Lagos division).
Others included: Alh. Yusuf Ara (Epe division). Hon. AbdulWaheed Shonibare (Ikeja division); Alh. Mojeed Sanni (Ikorodu division) and the Board Secretary, Saheed Onipede.