Stranded intending pilgrims in Nigeria and other countries have been given an opportunity to make this year’s Hajj after the Saudi Arabian authorities granted a 24-hour landing extension to the West African country and other countries.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, made this known on Wednesday in Makkah.
Hassan said Nigeria and other countries with transportation challenges had been granted an extension of 24 hours from the earlier two days given by the Saudi Arabia authorities.
He said, “It is our wish that no Nigerian intending pilgrim is left at home and we made several efforts to ensure this. Luckily, the Saudi authorities have further extended the date for closure of their airspace.
“With this extension, the remaining 5,000 pilgrims will be able to perform their Hajj. Over 1,000 pilgrims are on their way today (Wednesday). This is out of the 42,000 that registered for the 2022 Hajj.
“These two windows; of extension of date of closure and engagement of chartered aircraft, will ensure that all pilgrims realise their dream of performing this religious act.”
He explained that the earlier challenges were due to the cancellations and delays of flights caused by lack of preparedness of states.
According to Hassan, the delays were the major reasons for the delay in the number of flights made out of Nigeria so far.
On the drama between him and a state Hajj official before coming to Makkah, Hassan described it as a justifiable act.
“I understand with the Niger State pilgrims official who was concerned about his pilgrims that are still in Nigeria. But like I explained to him, I have a responsibility to the other large number of pilgrims already in Saudi Arabia just as those in Nigeria.
“That was why I left behind the Commissioners for Operations, Head of Aviation, Special Duties and others to continue. Luckily, the extension of airspace came as we arrived,” he said.