NAHCON and Hajj ‘24 in its Peak,- By Fatima Sanda Usara

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*Photo: NAHCON Chairman/CEO Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi (2nd right) touring and greeting Nigerian pilgrims at Arafat*

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The sacred rites that usher in the divinely celebrated pilgrimage to Makkah began yesterday 14th June 2024 with movement to Muna. Muslims all over the world hold the season with reverence in obedience to the decree of the Creator of mankind. Hajj, at least once in a lifetime, is binding on believers endowed with financial means and physical strength to perform the acts associated with sacrifices for the sake of the Lord.

Today, 15th June is Arafat day, a day that has social, economic, and political importance aside the religious implication of standing in the holiest convergence point glorifying the Almighty. 

Owing to early completion of airlift to Makkah, contingents of States’ Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards had before yesterday’s movement to Muna identified as well as inspected their tents and bed spaces reserved for their pilgrims. This coordination reduced stress and strife associated with frustration in trying to locate state tents with an army of pilgrims already on the trail.

In Muna each pilgrim was assigned a mattress, free fiber pillow, free umbrella, free blanket, and free hand fan. Also in the free package are small tubes of toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, cotton buds, toothbrush, face mask, bath soap, and prayer counter. In the Arafat tents, NAHCON supplied each pilgrim with a sleeping bag and blanket for use in the plains of Muzdalifa.

Pilgrims arrived the Muna camp to a waiting breakfast available in surplus. Similarly, cold water, in appreciation of the high temperature, were provided also in excess. It is hoped that issuance of NUSUK identity cards with the compliment of tight security checks had curbed infiltration of unregistered pilgrims who cause shortage of pilgrims’ spaces as well as other amenities. The Ithra al khair Service providers improved restroom facilities in the Muna camp, in addition to tens of wastebins located about 10 feet apart for sanitation purposes. 

Despite the 95 percent success recorded in the movement to Muna, Arafat and their corresponding feeding and tents arrangement , NAHCON noticed some not so pleasant occurrences.

Following some complaints from some Katsina state pilgrims concerning accommodation in Muna, the NAHCON Commissioner of Planning, Research, Statistics, Information and Library Services (PRSILS) Professor Abubakar Yagawal immediately visited the group to address the situation. They blamed their state pilgrims’ officials for what they described as abandonment. 

However, investigation shows that the problem arose due to the newly computerized Muna slot allocation system to individual pilgrims by Saudi Arabia’s Hajj authorities. Due to its novelty, the system did not achieve full synchrony with the human angle.

It is for this reason that the Saudi Hajj Ministry created emergency units to accommodate affected pilgrims when identified. Other essential supplies would then follow identification of such pilgrims and communication with the respective office. What the viral video did not show was the presence of some Pakistani pilgrims also accommodated in the same location. In Nigeria’s case however, the complains were channeled to the social media instead of contacting their state or NAHCON officials directly. 

The NAHCON Chairman, Mallam Jalal Ahmad Arabi personally supervised movement of pilgrims to Muna until early hours of the morning. The Chairman promised to ensure standard delivery of services paid for by the pilgrims. 

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