The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has commenced processing of visas for about 40,000 intending pilgrims who have completed payment of their hajj fares in different states.
The Head of Media of NAHCON, Malam Uba Mana, made the disclosure in a statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja. Vanguard gathered that about 95,000 pilgrims from state pilgrims welfare boards, agencies as well as private tour operators in the country would be seeking visa to perform the 2017 hajj.
Mana, however, advised all intending pilgrims wishing to travel for the 2017 hajj to complete payment of their hajj fares in their respective states before the closure of Saudi Electronic-portal for visa approval. According to him, the first flight to convey Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2017 hajj is scheduled to depart on Friday, July 30.
He therefore urged state pilgrims boards and agencies to immediately commence the inoculation of intending pilgrims and issuance of Basic Travel Allowance. The NAHCON spokesman listed states with highest number of registered pilgrims to includes Kaduna with 6, 335, followed by Niger with 4, 129, Zamfara, Kano and Sokoto each with about 3, 000 pilgrims.
Meanwhile, Hajj and Umrah Stakeholders, on Sunday in Abuja, appealed to the Federal Government not to completely remove its hands from the management of Hajj and Umrah operations in the country. The appeal was made in a communique issued at the end of a two-day National Hajj and Umrah Stakeholders Conference organised by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to mark the 10th Anniversary of the commission in Abuja last weekend.
The event which was attended by the Executive Secretaries and Chairmen of States Pilgrims Welfare Boards, Agencies, Tour Operators, Aviation Industry Professionals, among others was themed: “Hajj Management in Nigeria: Honouring the past, treasuring the present and shaping the future.” Chairman of the occasion, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, and President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs appealed to the Federal Government to reinstate the position of Amirul Hajj in line with Islamic tradition.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on August 22, 2015, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, declared that there would be no Federal Government delegation for pilgrimage.