Contrary to a media report that over 45,000 Nigerian pilgrims may miss this year’s hajj in Saudi Arabia as a result of non-availability of travel visas, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Friday debunked the report in its entirety.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Deputy Director of Information and Publications, Mousa Ubandawaki.
Ubandawaki declared that “this report is not only misleading but mischievous aimed at causing panic and apprehension among intending pilgrims in particular and the public in general.”
According to the Deputy Director, “truly, there was a technical problem relating to visa processing, but it has been resolved. At the moment, 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. Thus far, over 35000 Nigerian pilgrims are in the Holy Land, while the remaining pilgrims are expected to be airlifted in the next 10 days.
“It is interesting to note that out of 75,000 slots, more than 58,000 visas have been processed so far for Nigerian pilgrims. Of these, 20000 visas were issued between yesterday and today while the remainder will be processed by tomorrow. Despite the hiccup, the Commission is committed to concluding the airlift operation to Saudi Arabia before the 20th of this month.”
He stated further that as “a matter of fact, all the states that are scheduled to fly are on course to do so without any disruption related to visa procurement.”
Ubandawaki said considering the Commission’s resolve to airlift all Nigerian pilgrims to visit Madina before Arafat day and the need to synchronize the airlift with the available accommodation in the city of Madinah and not to overcrowd the place, the commission was cautious of pushing more pilgrims out.
The Deputy Director added “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.”
“We, therefore, urge the public and the pilgrims to disregard the news report which is meant to cause disaffection, panic and anxiety among Nigerians.
“We want to reiterate our commitment to airlift every eligible Nigerian pilgrim to the Holy land not only in good time but also in comfort and best welfare service,” Ubandawaki declared.