The National Hajj Commissionof Nigeria (NAHCON) has assured Nigerian pilgrims that they will be fed local food during holy pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking during the flag-off of the inaugural flight of Nigerian pilgrims on Thursday, the Chairman of NAHCON, Zikrullah Hassan said pilgrims would get the best of food during the exercise.
Recall that there was wide discomfort of the type of feeding given to Nigerian pilgrims during the 2022 hajj, leading the commission to get a refund of N107.8m (SR542,033) from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for poor feeding service rendered by companies of Mutawwifs to pilgrims from African non-Arab countries.
Hassan said that the new arrangement would provide jobs for Nigerians during the period.
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“The Commission, in collaboration with the Mutawwif’s Company for Pilgrims of Non-Arab African Countries popularly known as Muassasa, has put in place mechanisms for the comfort and safety of our pilgrims. We have agreed that this year, our pilgrims would be served indigenous meals.
“To this end, the Commission created job opportunities for our Nigerian caterers by insisting that Saudi based caterers work in partnership with them in preparing Nigerian local cuisines for our pilgrims,” he said.
While stating that it was able to negotiate a reasonable price for hotel accommodation in Makkah, he said “our pilgrims are lodged in 5-star hotels within the prestigious Markaziyya vicinity surrounding the Prophet’s Mosque.”
Despite the challenge caused by the closure of the Sudan airspace, he gave gratitude “to the Almighty for a smooth resolution of the quagmire.”
“We appreciate the federal government for waiving numerous aviation charges, the airlines for their sacrifices, the states’ pilgrims welfare boards and our pilgrims who all cooperated to arrive at an amiable solution to the seeming bottleneck,” he added.
Hassan further urged the pilgrims to be good representatives of Nigeria by abiding to the rules and regulations of Saudi Arabia.
“I want to restate and re-assure Nigerians that this year’s Hajj won’t be just about stories but stories of success. We have made and concluded arrangements to ensure that the accommodation, feeding and transportation facilities on ground are the best.
“We are all aware of th ecrisis in Sudan, we plead with our pilgrims as they will have to traverse through a route longer than usual. In the light of the above, the states are urged to properly enlighten their pilgrims.”
In his remark, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, commended NAHCON for the successful preparations for Hajj 2023.
The president admonished Hajj officials not to relent but “maintain the momentum.”
“Let this be the beginning of the job which is the Welfare of the pilgrims,” he added.
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