By Abdulazeez Abdulrasheed
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has announced the implementation of a new policy requiring pilgrims to be moved from Madina to Makkah after maximum stay of five days. The new rule comes into effect on Thursday, 8th June 2023.
The decision to enforce this policy was prompted by the growing complaints of overcrowding of Nigerian pilgrims in the holy city of Madina. Recognizing the significance of allowing Nigerian pilgrims the opportunity to visit Madina in the first phase, or before Arafat, NAHCON has decided to allocate 100 percent of Nigerian pilgrims to this phase for the first time in a long time.
To prevent potential sanctions against the country due to overcrowding in Madina, the Commission conducted extensive consultations and deliberations, ultimately leading to the adoption of the new policy. It is crucial to note that the Commission had no intention of compromising on the exclusive Markaziyya area in which Nigerian pilgrims reside during their stay, as this decision has received overwhelming commendation.
Nevertheless, to sustain the policy and align with the evolving landscape of Hajj and its associated developments, the duration of pilgrims’ stay in Madina had to be reduced. The objective of synchronizing the airlift of pilgrims to the Holy Land with the available bed space in Madina was crucial to avoid penalties or the need to relocate pilgrims to areas below the standards of the current Markaziyya.
While acknowledging the difficulty of this decision, NAHCON considers it necessary to ensure compliance with Saudi laws and, simultaneously, to prioritize the seamless and comfortable experience of Nigerian pilgrims in 2023. By spending five days in Madina, more pilgrims will have the opportunity to travel to Madina in the first phase before proceeding to Makkah to continue their Hajj rites. This approach outweighed the option of delaying departure due to insufficient bed spaces in the Prophet’s city.
NAHCON seeks the understanding and support of pilgrims, Hajj officials, and stakeholders for the successful implementation of this policy. Upholding the gains achieved thus far, the Commission remains committed to providing Nigerian pilgrims with the highest quality facilities and welfare during their Hajj journey.