The last Nigerian plane for the 2022 Hajj, an Azman Air carrying 319 pilgrims from Kaduna and Kano, as well as officials from other states, departed the King Abdul Aziz International Airport Jeddah at approximately 12:00pm on Sunday, 7 August 2023.
According to a statement issued by Fatima Sanda Usara, Assistant Director of Public Affairs, the journey marked the conclusion of Nigeria’s Hajj operations in 2022.
The Commission said the last flight is coming six days ahead of the deadline of the Hajj airlift as set by the Saudi authorities, and three days ahead of NAHCON’s planned deadline being 10th of August 2022.
It said that for over three weeks of the operation, only two flights cancellation were recorded with a maximum delay of six hours.
In a ceremony to mark the end of the operation, the NAHCON Chairman, Zikrullah Kunle Hassan attributed the success of the return trip to the Almighty.
The Chairman acknowledged that there were challenges during the outbound trip from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia resulting from time constraints as well as other unforeseen hiccups such as the IBAN issue that affected some Tour Operators, ”Nonetheless, this has spurred the Commission into taking lessons” he said.
He stressed that the Commission would commence early planning and would embark on prequalification of airlines sooner than later to allow the carriers to cross any unforeseen hurdles in good time.
He also stressed that the Commission would ensure that any contractual agreement signed is fulfilled as agreed.
Chairman of the Company of Mutawifs for Pilgrims from African Non-Arab Countries, Mr. Ahmad Sindi eulogised the Nigerian Hajj mission as the single most important delegation to the company. In his words, “Nigeria is very special to the company”.
He lamented that certain things were not done the way the company wanted but reassured that the pilgrims deserve better service and this they are ready to provide irrespective of the cost.
The Chairman also raised the issue of insufficient space and proper marking of conveniences in Muna.
Responding, Mr Sindi assured NAHCON that the 2023 Hajj will witness complete restructuring in contrast to this year’s hasty arrangements.
He also expressed confidence that the Hajj quota will return to status quo ante and therefore recommended that NAHCON starts working on the original figure unless instructed otherwise.
He further informed that the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had already engaged engineering companies on the upgrade of facilities in Muna, Arafat and Muzdalifa.
The upgrade will be carried out in phases. However, his company has sent out a proposal to carry out the upgrade in the interest of its pilgrims even if the upgrade will be only temporary before the phasal engineering project reaches our site.
The Mu’assasa Chairman revealed that the company will next year roll out a scientific feeding plan that will take care of the quantity, quality and number of calories contained in the meal.
He also assured that there will be pre-delivery monitoring where compromise will not be tolerated at all unlike the situation this year which forced everyone to accept the available option.
He acknowledged that indeed 2023 Hajj preparations have started with the hosting of NAHCON in the finest location in Jeddah.