As the 2023 Hajj Pilgrims’ Airlift Begins, the NAHCON CEO Hails FG, Airlines, Others

During the inaugural flight on Thursday, VM3001 of MAX AIR, carrying 472 Nasarawa hajj pilgrims and 27 officials, took off from Abuja to Madinah on Thursday, May 25, 2023, at 18:23 hrs. A total of 472 people were airlifted to Nasarawa, including 310 men and 162 women.

In a speech delivered by Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan – The Chairman/CEO of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria at the hajj 2023 inaugural flight at the pilgrims terminal of The Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, Thursday reads: “I start today with an expression of profound gratitude to Allah, the Most-High for making this day a reality to us at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, who have been working tirelessly to make this great occasion a success. We also wish to express our deep gratitude to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari GCFR whose unflinching support paved way for the realization of this inaugural flight today. I equally congratulate the pilgrims, many of whom must have been waiting for years to witness this day when they will be airlifted to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. Indeed, today is a memorable day because all the plans that have been put on ground for the smooth takeoff of the 2023 Hajj has not gone in vain.”

According to the NAHCON Chairman,”This year, the Commission had been confronted with many challenges which were thankfully managed with the support of sister agencies and other stakeholders in the Hajj Industry. We were able to negotiate a reasonable price for hotel accommodation in Makkah knowing fully well that numerous hotels have been demolished for futuristic development. Also, we have been able to maintain the standard in Madinah whereby our pilgrims are lodged in 5-star hotels within the prestigious Markaziyya vicinity surrounding the Prophet’s Mosque.”

“Thankfully, despite the unprecedented challenge caused by the closure of the Sudan airspace hence forcing a re-route from Nigeria to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we give gratitude to the Almighty for leading us to a smooth resolution of the quagmire. We appreciate federal government for waiving numerous aviation charges, the airlines for their sacrifices, the States’ Pilgrims Welfare Boards and our Pilgrims who all cooperated to arrive at an amiable solution to the seeming bottleneck.”

“Similarly, the Commission, in collaboration with the Mutawwif’s Company for Pilgrims of Non-Arab African Countries popularly known as Muassasa, have put in place mechanisms for the comfort and safety of our pilgrims. We have agreed that this year, our pilgrims would be served indigenous meals. To this end, the Commission created job opportunities for our Nigerian caterers by insisting that Saudi based caterers work in partnership with them in preparing Nigerian local cuisines for our pilgrims. Hiring indigenous airlines for the airlift operations is the Commission’s way of promoting local airlines to remain in business,” he explained.

“Let me seize this opportunity to implore our pilgrims to be good representatives of Nigeria by abiding to the rules and regulations of our host country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I must commend the Custodians of the Two Holy mosques for their hospitality to pilgrims from all over the world. Truly they pride themselves as hosts to the Guests of the Most Merciful and they must be commended for playing this role well. I enjoin our pilgrims, here present and others that will follow, to pray for the peace and progress of our beloved country, Nigeria.”

Adding that,”The Commission appreciates the cooperation of all Stakeholders in the Hajj arrangements so far, however, it is now time for execution of these plans, we therefore urge you all to ensure readiness on all fronts, as you are aware, lapses in flight operations have a multiplier effect on other aspects of operations.”

He indicated that,”All Nigerian Pilgrims traveling for Hajj 2023 are ambassadors of Nigeria in the Kingdom, hence, they should be law abiding to the regulations of the Kingdom, uphold the tenets of Islam, be courteous to their fellow pilgrims and above all, they should be well acquainted with the obligations of Hajj which is the main purpose of their journey.”

Alhaji Hassan continued,”On this note, I want to restate and re assure Nigerians that this year’s Hajj won’t be just about stories but stories of success. We have made and concluded arrangements to ensure that the accommodation, feeding and transportation facilities on ground are the best.”

“We are all aware of the crisis in Sudan, we plead with our pilgrims as they will have to traverse through a route longer than usual. In the light of the above, the States are urged to properly enlighten their pilgrims.

“I commend the Nasarawa State Pilgrims Welfare Board for ensuring the readiness of her pilgrims which has culminated in making this day a reality. I also wish to express my sympathy to the government, and the people of Nasarawa over the motor accident that occurred when some of the pilgrims were traveling yesterday from Nasarawa to Abuja. I wish our pilgrims safe journey to and from Saudi Arabia. I pray they return to meet their families safely and I wish them a memorable Hajj mabrur,” he stated.



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