*Direct landing at Madinah international airport will improve
Pilgrims performing the annual hajj and its lesser hajj rites have been assured of a continued support towards meeting their religious obligations by the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON).
Speaking in an FCT NUJ interactive session designed for Ministries, Departments, Agencies and private sector player to showcase their achievements, at the Nugget Hotel in Abuja, Dr Mohammed Bello Tambuwal, the Secretary of NAHCON represented Barrister Abdullah Muktar Muhammed who is the Chairman of the Commission.
According to Tambuwal, “The Commission was able to conclude necessary arrangements for 2015 Hajj on time which has contributed to the success recorded in the year under review. These arrangements included securing of Hajj slots for the year, effective management of the slots among the 36 State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards/Agencies/Commissions, FCT the Armed Forces and Private Tour Operators and processing of traveling documents for the intending pilgrims.”
While identifying what they’ve done to combat regular challenges of organising the hajj yearly, he asserted that, “in 2015, we expanded our pilgrims’ enlightenment activities by organising a twelve-episode Radio and Television pilgrims’ enlightenment series in conjunction with NTA and FRCN. The programmes tagged “Hajj: A Journey of a Lifetime”, were aired over the network services of the stations to ensure wide coverage.
“The airlift of Nigerian pilgrims into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the 2015 Hajj commenced in Kaduna on Sunday 23rd August, 2015 and continued till the last conventional pilgrim was airlifted on 17th September, 2015, three days before the closure of Jeddah Hajj terminal airport.”
On the pilgris return journey, he said, “the movement commenced on the 28th September, 2015 and was concluded on 24th October, 2015 three days ahead of the planned date of completing the operations which was 27th October 2015, thereby setting record of finishing six days before the closure of Jeddah airport to Hajj flights.”
Tambuwal praised his commission for achieving “increase in the percentage of direct landing at Madinah international airport from 57% in 2014 to 64% in 2015. The direct flight operation into the Prince Muhammad International Airport (PMIA) in Madinah has saved the Nigerian pilgrims the rigours of travelling by road from Jeddah to Madinah.”
Answering questions on what needs to be done to improve pilgrims’ welfare, Tambuwal said, “for efficient administration and management of Hajj, a robust Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure is required. The application of the technology like EHRAMS Hajj Management Software developed and deployed by the Malaysia Tabung Hajj will ensure efficiency and transparency in slots allocation to individual pilgrim and block corrupt practices of all types.
In addition, he suggested that, “the Federal Government through its Ministry of Aviation should intervene in ensuring vital facilities such as night landing instruments, fire cover, fuel storage, security scanners and adequate staff are provided in Airports that have deficiencies of such.”
He was accompanied to the media briefing by Messrs Uba Mana and Adamu Abdullahi.