Our attention has been drawn to a news story in the Leadership newspaper of today, Friday 9th June to the effect that over 45000 Nigerian pilgrims may miss this year’s Hajj. This is as a result of non-availability of travel visas to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This report is not only misleading but mischievous aimed at causing panic and apprehension among intending pilgrims in particular and the public in general.
Truly, there was a technical problem relating to the visa processing, but it has been resolved at the moment, visa processing is ongoing. In the last two days, visas to state pilgrims have been steady, and no flight has been cancelled due to visa issues. Thus far, over 35000 Nigerian pilgrims are in the Holy Land, while the remaining pilgrims are expected to be airlifted in the next 10 days.
It is interesting to note that out of 75,000 slots more than 58,000 visas have been processed so far for Nigerian pilgrims. Of these, 20000 visas were issued between yesterday and today while the remainder will be processed by tomorrow. Despite the hiccup, the Commission is committed to concluding the airlift operation to Saudi Arabia before the 20th of this month.
As a matter of fact, all the states that are scheduled to fly are on course to do so without any disruption related to visa procurement. Moreover, considering our resolve to airlift all our pilgrims to visit Madina before Arafat and the need to synchronize the airlift with the available accommodation in the city and not to overcrowd the place the commission was cautious of pushing more pilgrims out
In conclusion we want to urge our partners in the media that while it is critical for them to push the interest of Nigerian pilgrims, they also be conscious of the fact that they might be indirectly creating worry and anxiety for the hapless pilgrims.
We therefore urge the public and the pilgrims to disregard the news report which is meant to cause disaffection, panic and anxiety among Nigerians. We want to reiterate our commitment to airlift every eligible Nigerian pilgrims to the Holy land not only in good time but also in comfort and best welfare service.
Deputy Director, Information and Publication