Two Nigerian female pilgrims delivered new babies while 15 persons were reported dead during the just concluded hajj operations in Saudi Arabia.
The new mothers are from Sokoto and Kogi states, while the deceased included a member of staff and legal adviser to the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Barr. Ahmed Idris, who travelled with his wife but eventually died after a brief illness following conclusion of all hajj rites.
The head of the team in-charge of health matters in the commission, Dr. Ibrahim Kana, dropped this hint during a stakeholders’ meeting in Mecca at the 2017 hajj post Arafat meeting with stakeholders.
According to him, members of the medical committee shall visit all hospitals in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and take care of all Nigerian patients on admission while all unidentified and missing pilgrims shall also be ascertained.
Dr. Kana projected and cautioned that within the next 10 years, Nigerians would operate hajj during very dry season and hot weather, hence the need for unhealthy persons or the aged to guide against performing the pilgrimage but if the need arises and such pilgrims should be accompanied by able persons from home.
The head of the medical team said the commission would adopt a system where the operations of all ambulances would be centralised for proper coordination.
…inaugural outbound flight to Nigeria commences
The inaugural return flight to Nigeria for the 2017 hajj operations has begun.
The airlifting commenced yesterday (Wednesday) via Flynas Airline with pilgrims from the Federal capital Territory FCT, Abuja, comprising 485 pilgrims and eleven officials.
The Chairman of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Barr. Abdullahi Muktar Mohammed disclosed this in Mecca, Saudi Arabia at the 2017 hajj post Arafat meeting with stakeholders on hajj operations.
Barr. Mohammed, said the commission would insist on its policy of first to arrive Saudi Arabia for the hajj, and first to be airlifted back home and therefore urged all Nigerian pilgrims to be patient as all of them would be airlifted back home within the stipulated and scheduled time.
Meanwhile, it will be turn of Kwara pilgrims to be airlifted from next week Tuesday (September 12) till Saturday (September 17).
The Executive Secretary of Kwara State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Tunde Jimoh disclosed this to newsmen in Mecca during an interview.
According to him, the first batch of the state pilgrims comprising 560 would be airlifted by MAX airline while the second batch also comprising 450 pilgrims would be airlifted straight to the Ilorin International airport next Wednesday by MedView airline.
The following day, Medview would again airlift another 560 while the remaining pilgrims comprising 765 would be airlifted by same airline on the 16th and 17th of September.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of MedView airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, while addressing journalists, said his airline has added another aircraft, Boeing 747 to his fleet to ensure a smooth and hitch free outbound operations.
Bankole also disclosed that MedView airline had made available zam zam water free of charge to all its passengers, which according to him, had been delivered to all state offices of NAHCON for deliverance to all the pilgrims on arrival at their various destinations.
He added that their luggages would also be delivered to them on return.
…NAHCON vows to deal with erring tour operators
Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Barr. Abdullah Mukhtar Muhammed has threatened to sanction all erring tour operators in the country that abandoned their pilgrims in accordance with the act that established the commission.
According to him, reports reaching the commission showed that some tour operators, after collecting huge amount and hard earned money from their clients abandoned them to their fate while in the holy land, which negates their initial arrangement, particularly in terms of providing such pilgrims with descent accommodation.
Barr. Mukhtar urged the Saudi authorities to improve on the facilities at Mina in subsequent hajj operations and also called for a global discussion on how best to improve on future hajj exercises.
The NAHCON chairman described this year’s hajj as very successful compared to previous exercises but however, called on all stakeholders across the world, particularly in Nigeria to address all shortcomings.
He commended Nigerian pilgrims for their positive behaviour and comportment before, during and after the hajj, but however directed all states that their drivers violated the Saudi Arabian traffic rules and regulations to pay their fines before leaving the Saudi kingdom.
In his remarks, the Commissioner in charge of Planning, Personnel Management and Finance at NAHCON, Alhaji Yusuf Adebayo Ibrahim, who catered for feeding and tent services at Mina and Arafat, disclosed that early payment of hajj fares by various state pilgrims welfare boards enabled the commission to secure good accommodation in Mecca and Medina.
He suggested that a perfect arrangement should be put in place during next year’s hajj whereby Nigerian food would be brought to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrims through the appropriate quarters and not through illegitimate means for them to enjoy the meals they are used to.
Adebayo pledged that the commission would improve on its services next year and appealed to the Saudi government to equally enhance their accommodation facilities in Mina as the space allocated to Nigerian pilgrims this year, was not too spacious.
In her remarks, the chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, praised NAHCON officials, state pilgrims welfare boards and other stakeholders for ensuring a successful hajj operation but announced that the National Assembly would soon invite the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia for a briefing on how best to improve on future hajj operations. She condemned the idea where the accommodations of some state pilgrims are too far away from Haram.