Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), announced the successful completion of the airlift of Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for this year’s hajj. Speaking at a press briefing held in Abuja, Alhaji Hassan shared the news from the Pilgrims Terminal of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, just before the final flights departed, marking the end of Phase 1 airlifting for the 2023 hajj.
He expressed his satisfaction that despite the significant number of over 95,000 pilgrims, all individuals from the various states were successfully airlifted.
The Chairman said: “This year’s operation is about the first time in 10 years when we are going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a total number of over 95,000. It has taken a while for Nigeria pilgrims to get this number and the beauty of it is that despite the number, we are able to airlift all the pilgrims of the states.”
Highlighting the remarkable achievement, Alhaji Hassan noted that this year’s operation marked the first time in a decade that Nigeria sent such a large number of pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He expressed gratitude for the successful completion of the airlift, assuring that every operation managed or micromanaged by NAHCON would be present in the Kingdom and able to participate in the Arafah ritual this year.
Additionally, he mentioned a final flight scheduled for 2 pm on Saturday, consisting of NAHCON staff and stakeholders.
He said: “ 2 o’clock flight will be the final flight. It consists of no pilgrims, just our staff and some stakeholders.
During the briefing, Alhaji Hassan took the opportunity to extend gratitude to President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Senator Kashim Shettima for their unwavering support during challenging times. Their presence and assistance played a crucial role in overcoming obstacles, including difficulties with fund transfers and visa processing. The Chairman expressed deep appreciation on behalf of NAHCON and the entire hajj family for the continuous support of the President and Vice President.
Alhaji Hassan also acknowledged the patience and accommodation of the airlines involved in the airlift process, recognizing their resilience despite delayed payments. He attributed the successful outcome of the operations to divine guidance and thanked all NAHCON staff and board members for their contributions to the achievements thus far.