Arafat: Saraki urges pilgrims to pray for peaceful elections, economic recovery


Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has charged Nigerian pilgrims currently performing this year’s hajj to use the significance of the Arafat Day to pray for peaceful, credible, free and fair elections in 2019.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, said as Nigeria is set for the conduct of general elections to elect her leaders in 2019, there is no better time to seek for the almighty’s intervention to ensure an exercise devoid of violence than now because of the significance of Arafat.
He said it was the almighty Allah’s promise to mankind that all prayers made during Arafat would be granted, saying “as such Nigerian hajj pilgrims should endeavour to utilise the unique opportunity for the peace of the country before, during and after the 2019 elections”.
Saraki further advised Nigerian pilgrims that the gathering of worshippers from all over the world on the plains of the holy Mount Arafat offers a rare opportunity for them to intensify prayers to Almighty Allah to resolve the economic and security challenges facing the country.
The 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah is the day pilgrims gather at the plain of Mount Arafat, at the outskirt of Mecca, praying and supplicating to the Almighty Allah. Arafat Day was also the day Islam was perfected and approved for mankind by the Almighty Allah. The gathering is expected to consist nearly two million faithful from across the world.
Saraki said: “Today, our country is passing through a difficult phase of nation building occasioned by economic challenges, rising insecurity and threat to our corporate existence as a nation by uncertain political atmosphere by actions of selfish politicians.
“It is therefore not only advisable but necessary for our pilgrims to seize this rare opportunity the Arafat Day offers to say prayers for our nation to overcome these challenges, and that we as citizens should rededicate ourselves to the service of our country”, he said, while reminding the pilgrims that a prayer for one’s nation is an indirect route for praying to God to meet their individual needs and aspirations.
He further called on Nigerians at home to also join in the prayers on the Arafat Day as Muslims believe that wherever you are on this special day, if you supplicate to the Almighty, He will answer the prayers.
“Let Nigerian Muslims in Saudi Arabia and those at home devote this day for seeking Allah’s intervention to restore peace in the troubled parts of the country, help our economy to recover, help the leaders to deliver on our promises and solidify the unity and stability of our country so that individual citizens can realize their genuine hopes and aspirations”, the President of the Senate stated.
He advised the pilgrims to continue to conduct themselves in good and orderly manner while also complying with all laws, regulations and directives by the Saudi authorities aimed at making the remaining period of the hajj exercise hitch-free.

…2m expected at annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca – Authorities

Saudi authorities have said two million Muslims from around the world are expected to converge on Islam’s holiest city of Mecca and nearby sites in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, which starts Sunday.
The hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a mandatory duty for all Muslims to make once in a lifetime if they possesses enough financial resources and are physically capable of undertaking the journey to the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed.
It ends for most Muslims on Thursday.
Men don seamless white clothes and women wear loose garments and must refrain from wearing make-up and jewellery.
They perform the same rituals in a demonstration of religious unity, equality and pursuit of spiritual renewal.
According to official Saudi figures, more than 750 people died in a hajj stampede during a stone-throwing ritual in the holy town of Mina near Mecca three years ago.
In 2017, 2.4 million pilgrims took part in the exercise.
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that is considered a mandatory religious duty by practicing Muslims.
According to figures published by Gulf news channel Al Jazeera, Egypt with 108,000 pilgrims was Africa’s largest contingent in 2017 even though they placed fifth on the list.
The top contributor was Indonesia followed by India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in that order.
Other African countries that made the top 10 are Nigeria (79,000), Africa’s most populous nation.

…ban unemployed Nigerians from travelling to Saudi Arabia, Envoy urges FG

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Muhammadu Modibbo, has urged the Federal Government to ban unemployed Nigerians from travelling to the Kingdom in search of jobs, to save Nigeria’s image.
Modibbo made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
“I have sent a letter through the Foreign Affairs Ministry for government to ban such people from coming here (Saudi) because they are suffering.
“I am also appealing to Nigerians to try as much as possible to get something doing in Nigeria instead of coming here because it is not easy.
“Thousands of people from various countries have left here,” the envoy said.
He said that the embassy was also concerned about the increasing cases of women working as maids that are being abused, and some unscrupulous Nigerians involved in drug trafficking.
According to him, the embassy has been intervening in cases of drug pushing by some Nigerians, adding “there are many Nigerians on death row for the offence”.
”There are many cases before I assumed office eight months ago; I always intervene but there is not much I can do even though we have some little successes.”
On the prevalence of Nigerians illegally residing in the Holy land, known as Tukaris, widely believed to be involved in shady businesses, the envoy said most of them refused to return home after the expiration of their entry permits.
“Many of them have been here for many years working and will not return home but if they are arrested, they are deported instantly.”
He blamed some agents for the woes of many Nigerians working in Saudi companies and other organisations.
“The agents manage to get passports and Visa for their clients and when they have problems, they come to the embassy daily.
“Some countries have banned their citizens from coming to work here because of problems being faced in Saudi Arabia. So why are Nigerians coming to face these hardships.”
He, however, commended the cordial relationship between Saudi Government and Nigeria, adding that Nigeria recently got a $10 million donation from the Kingdom to assist Boko Haram victims.

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