By Ahmad Mu’azu

A team from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is expected in Nigeria to assess level of preparedness and the possibility of including Nigeria in the Saudi Arabian Makkah Route Project initiative.

The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan stated this when he hosted the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Capt Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu at the commission’s headquarters today, 8th October, 2020. Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan expressed gratitude for the visit considering that he was scheduled to visit the FAAN MD. The NAHCON CEO said his planned visit was in tune with the fourth board’s mandate of making pilgrims’ journey for Hajj more convenient.

According to the NAHCON Chairman, there is the need for NAHCON to collaborate with FAAN in facilitating the implementation of the Makkah Route Project, which will see Nigerian pilgrims screened from our local airports by Saudi immigration personnel and other relevant security agencies. The project was initiated by Saudi Arabia to facilitate easy movement of Muslim pilgrims from all over the world through ensuring that all immigration requirements are fulfilled at the airport of origin. “If implemented, the Makkah route project will enable the screening of our pilgrims from here in Nigeria and when they arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, they will simply walk straight to their buses and transported to their hotels. This will ease the screening and waiting time at the Kingdom’s airports, just like flying from Kano to Katsina”, the Chairman disclosed.

Alhaji Hassan further revealed that request for Nigeria to be included in the initiative was first made by NAHCON’s third board on December 2018. The new board now plans to actualize its take-off. “We may start testing with one airport and expand to others in due time”.

In his response, the FAAN MD expressed delight with the development and reassured that FAAN is ready to partner with NAHCON in ensuring that the Nigerian pilgrims get to enjoy this service. “The Makkah Road project will improve our services as long as the project is implemented according to global practices,” he stated.

He also assured the Chairman/CEO on being professional at all times. “Any issue coming from FAAN will be professionally taken based on the rules and regulations laid down by the aviation industry”. Capt. Yadudu also informed the NAHCON Chairman that FAAN has one of the best professional equipment and facilities in the whole of West Africa and its personnel are in conformity with the standardized operations in the whole world.

 Mu’azu is with Public Affairs Unit, NAHCON