Kano begins airlift of Hajj pilgrims, pledges hitch-free operation
Donates N15.8m building materials to needy indigenes
THE first batch contingent from Kano State for 2015 hajj operation would depart Nigeria for Saudi Arabia on Saturday, September 5, the state pilgrim welfare board has disclosed. This exercise is expected to last two weeks.
Kano has the highest population of pilgrims – 5,602 persons for this year’s operation.
Speaking on the board’s preparedness for the hajj exercise, Executive Secretary of the pilgrims board, Mallam Abba Yakubu, told The Guardian that the board has got about 4,524 visas for the travellers, reassuring that all is set for the first set of about 500 pilgrims who would depart Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport through Max Airlines, which is the official carrier approved by National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
Meanwhile, the state government has donated cement and roofing sheets worth N15.8 million to 415 flood victims at Hungu and Faragai villages in Albasu Local Council.
The Executive Secretary, State Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SERERA), Alhaji Ali Bashir, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kano yesterday.
According to Yakubu, adequate arrangement has been made for accommodation, e-tracking and transportation for the pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.
He stated that adequate measures to forestall cases of flight delay as experienced last year is now addressed, insisting that government would not tolerate any breach of agreement reached with the airline this year.
Yakubu said, “You will recall that the delay we had last year was as a result of inability of the airlines to airlift intending pilgrims. As a matter of fact, our contingent was stranded for about nine days at the airport waiting endlessly. That was after we airlifted about 3,000 pilgrims to the holy land. In fact, we had to seek for emergency rescue from Max Air.
“This is the reason why the government selected only Max Air this year. Our mission is to airlift our pilgrims peacefully and to return peacefully in a smooth exercise. That is our intention and we shall achieve that Insha Allah. Our first flight takes off this Saturday and the exercise will last for about two weeks.”
On the newly introduced e-tracking of pilgrims, Yakubu said the board has completed all necessary requirements on biometric system for intending pilgrims as demanded by the Saudi Authority.
The e-tracking mechanism is designed to capture database and record of all pilgrims such as accommodation, state and county of origin, and other personal details.
“Kano is fully in compliance with that innovation because pilgrims must satisfy this before issuance of visa. Our planning and research department is working to ensure everything is in order and I can assure you we are up to the task. For now we have concluded the e-tracking process and we are just expecting the remaining visas any moment from now.”
Yakubu added, “We have secured standard hotel accommodation in Mecca for our pilgrims and government has paid subsidy of N240 million for accommodation.”
SERERA’s Executive Secretary, Ali Bashir, said the donation was part of the government’s effort to support the victims to rebuild their houses and alleviate their sufferings.
According to him, the government and the legislator representing the area, Senator Kabiru Gaya, have also provided them with food items and clothing materials shortly after the incident in July.
“The governor has since visited the affected villages where he sympathised with them over the incident,” he said.
He said the governor had also directed the agency to visit 13 local councils that were affected by recent flooding in the state.
The executive secretary said the agency was currently on tour of the 13 local councils ravaged by flood, and would submit a comprehensive report to the state government for immediate assistance.
He said similar report would also be sent to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for assistance to the victims.