2022 Hajj airlift from Nigeria has been flagged off from the Maiduguri International Airport. The flight, a Max Air VM1001 with 529 pilgrims took off today, 9th June 2022 at exactly 5:33pm for Saudi Arabia.

Present at the flag-off occasion was representative of President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Borno state executive governor, His Excellency Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum. He was accompanied by Deputy Governor, Hon. Umar Usman Kadafur. Also present was the Shehu of Borno, Dr Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai Al-Amin El-Kanemi and his entourage, accompanied by other Emirs among whom was the Emir of Dikwa.

Similarly, at the venue was the Chief Imam of Maiduguri Central Mosque, Imam Zanna Laisu Ibrahim Muhammad who gave the opening prayer, Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir and Chairman of Borno State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Sheikh AbdulFatahi Ibn Arabi.

Joining the NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan at the flag-off ceremony was NAHCON’s Commissioner Operation, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa, the Commissioner PRSILS, Sheikh Suleman Momoh, Board Member representing Northeast, Alhaji Abba Jatto, and some Directors of the Commission. Dignitaries from sister agencies such as Ministry of Aviation, representatives of the air career, Max Air were also present including members from the Nigerian Armed Forces.

In the ceremony marking the inaugural flight, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed pleasure to inaugurate this first flight right here from the city of Maiduguri. This he said is evidence of return of peace to the state. Mr President commended the supplementary effort of Borno state in ensuring successful commencement of Hajj airlift from Nigeria. He congratulated leadership of NAHCON under Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan for fulfilling the pledge of taking off Hajj flight from the historical city.

President Muhammadu Buhari urged pilgrims to pray for the well-being, peace, unity progress and prosperity of the country. Other speakers, including the Deputy Governor, His Royal Highness, Shehu of Borno, Chairman Borno pilgrims’ board all acknowledged the recovery effort of the state and federal government. They also counselled the pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the country and to pray for Nigeria.

In a welcome address, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan described the day’s event as memorable for several reasons. Firstly, after what seemed like eternity, the fourth board of NAHCON is about to dispatch its first set of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2022 Hajj. Secondly, the inaugural flight is taking off from the ancient city of Maiduguri. In his words, “this development is an indication that Borno state is growing stronger from its challenges”.

The Chairman glorified the Almighty for making the Hajj feasible for foreign pilgrims and appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for his endearing support to NAHCON. He also commended the Borno state governor for facilitating the timely take off of the inaugural flight. The Chairman expressed confidence that with cooperation of all pilgrims, Hajj airlift would be concluded within scheduled time despite the obvious time constraints.

The Chairman congratulated the successful pilgrims for being among the few Muslims chosen by the Creator to proceed to Saudi Arabia to worship Him after the covid-19 pandemic that grounded global activities. He therefore, called on the intending pilgrims to utilize this special opportunity on worship and to avoid any action that would be detrimental to their devotion and to the image of Nigeria. The pilgrims were encouraged to exhibit exemplary conduct, to abide by the regulations of Saudi Arabia, respect instructions of their pilgrims’ officials and to observe all health regulations while in the Kingdom and even after their return.

“NAHCON has made the necessary arrangements for your comfort, do not hesitate to contact any of our official for assistance when in need, because they are there to serve you. Safeguard your valuables and do not carry along any prohibited item into Saudi Arabia, as a sign of honour to the host country”, he said.

Finally, Alhaji Hassan implored the pilgrims to pray for the peace, prosperity, security, and unity of Nigeria, to pray for peaceful electioneering in Nigeria, to pray for a successful and hitch free Hajj among other appeals.

Fatima Sanda Usara,

A.D, Public Affairs,

NAHCON