The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, on Thursday began the implementation of a new rule which would make it mandatory for Nigerian pilgrims in Madina to be moved to Makkah after five days stay in the second holiest city of Saudi Arabia.
According to a statement signed by the NAHCON’s Deputy Director of Information and Publications, Alhaji Mousa Ubandawaki, the policy becomes imperative following the complaint of overcrowding of Nigerian pilgrims in the City of Madina.
The statement revealed that for the first time in a long time, the commission has “given 100 percent Nigerian pilgrims the opportunity to visit Madina in the first phase or before Arafat.”
NAHCON also stated that it had to adopt the new policy after wide consultations and exhaustive deliberation with critical stakeholders to achieve the feat and in order to avert sanctions against Nigeria if there are pilgrims overcrowding in Madina.
It further noted that “it is a known fact that Nigerian pilgrims live in the exclusive Markaziyya area during their stay, a decision which has been overwhelmingly commended and for which the commission never intended to compromise.”
NAHCON, however, disclosed that “if the policy must be sustained, then the number of days our pilgrims must stay in Madina had to be reduced.”
“As it is well known that Hajj is fast changing with new development and realities, if the commission must achieve the objectives of making the 2023 Hajj seamless and comfortable for our pilgrims, it is important to synchronize the airlift of pilgrims to the holyland with the bed space available.”
This, the statement added, won’t allow the commission to be penalized for airlifting more pilgrims into Madina than the available accommodation or be forced to take the pilgrims to another area which are well below the standard of the current Markaziyya.
“As tough a decision this may seem, we felt it is a necessary action we need to take, so that we won’t be at the receiving end of Saudi laws and at the same time, it was considered more utilitarian for Nigerian pilgrims to spend five days in Madina thereby allowing more pilgrims to travel to Madina in the first phase from where they would be moved to Makkah to continue with their Hajj rites, than to delay their departure for wants of bed spaces in the Prophet’s city.
“We, therefore, crave for the understanding and support of the pilgrims, Hajj officials and indeed stakeholders for the successful implementation of this policy.
“We should not give up the gains we have so far achieved. While reiterating our commitment to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims receive the best quality service in terms of facilities and welfare, the commission is left with no choice than to adopt this measure in the overall interest of the Nigerian pilgrims,” NAHCON further explained.