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2018 Hajj: Airlift Of Pilgrims To Saudi Arabia Begins July 21, NAHCON Boss Announces

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed has announced that the airlift of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for this year’s hajj will commence on July 21.

Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar, who spoke at the stakeholders Forum yesterday in Abuja, hinted that intending pilgrims from Kogi State will be the first set to be airlifted to the Holy Land on that day.

The NAHCON boss, who said that the Forum was meant to update all stakeholders on the preparations for the 2018 operations, said that vaccines for the inoculation of pilgrims have been made available for takeoff of the immunization activity.

He however warned state officials not to operate clinics in the accommodation facilities while in the holy land, adding that such practice is against Saudi Arabian regulations.

Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar said that national medical team, comprising 60 percent of state nominated medical staff and NAHCON’s 40 percent, is the body allowed to establish medical centers in Saudi in addition to the Saudi based ones.

He commended accommodation negotiation committee for their efforts in bringing down Hajj fares this year against all odds even as he advised state representatives to sensitize their pilgrims on the need to remain in their homes until their flights are called instead of putting themselves under pressure waiting at the Hajj camps.

The NAHCON boss said that the Saudi authorities have agreed to carry out a mobile biometric data-capturing exercise and that a firm appointed for the exercise will travel from one location to the other registering intending pilgrims instead of the previous arrangement of moving the pilgrims to designated data-capturing centers.

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He therefore directed states welfare boards and agencies that have fully uploaded their pilgrims’ particulars on the Hajj e-portal to mobilize their pilgrims for the assignment, which commenced from today, June 6.

He also asked state welfare boards to indicate their readiness and ensure that they provide the biometric data capturing officials with functional offices that should be completely air-conditioned, with constant electricity supply and internet facility.

On the issue of double decker beds to be made available in Muna, at an additional cost of 150 Saudi Riyals, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar  said that the issue had been communicated to NAHCON from the Mu’as’sasa establishment. “Thus, any state willing to hire the beds for their pilgrims should indicate their interest for further action.

On the issue of tour operators, the Chairman charged them to remain focused on the Hajj template and not to compromise standards or shortchange pilgrims of the services they have paid for.

Among those who attended the stakeholders Forum titled: “Final Preparatory Meeting for 2018 Hajj” were, among others, state pilgrims’ welfare boards’ representatives, members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, including its chairman, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu; representative of the minister of State for Foreign Affairs; Chairman of the Nigeria-Saudi Parliamentary Friendship and Hajj Affairs; representative of ministry of Health, representatives of aviation industry, airline operators, independent Hajj operators.  [myad]