Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has further extended his olive branch to the Y2024 Hajj pilgrims by paying the $100 shortfall in their Basic Travel Allowance (BTA).


Commissioner for Home Affairs, Hon. Olanrewaju Ibrahim Layode made the disclosure on Saturday while addressing the fifth and last batch of pilgrims before their departure from Lagos.


The announcement of the deduction which was made during the third flight was met with outright rejection by the pilgrims who described it as unfair and unacceptable, but the State Commissioner was able to douse the tension by appealing for patience and promised to consult with Governor Sanwo-Olu for his intervention.


Hon. Layode, who is also the Amir-ul-Hajj, told the pilgrims that immediately the attention of Mr. Governor was drawn to the development, he approved the payment of the $100 shortfall for each of the 1, 868 pilgrims, pending the resolution of the matter by both NAHCON and CBN.


He also reiterated that Governor Sanwo-Olu would keep his promises of paying the cost of the Hadaya (sacrificial) ram, Ziyyarah (visitation) to historical sites in both Madinah and Makkah as well as monetize the Ihram clothes for each of them. He urged them not to pay anybody for the aforementioned items.


While assuring them that the pilgrims on the first flight who were yet to collect their BTA would get theirs in the Holy Land, he appealed to them to be good ambassadors of the state by exhibiting exemplary conduct and behaviours.


He also urged them to endeavour to pray for Governor Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat’s administration in the state and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for peace, progress and tranquillity in the country.


The pilgrims who could not hide their joy and enthusiasm about the Governor’s kind gestures, were singing, dancing and praising God for His timely intervention. One of the pilgrims who craved anonymity, said, “We are extremely happy and appreciate Mr. Governor for coming to our aid. We thank him so much. May Allah in His infinite mercy continue to bless him and his deputy and crown their efforts with success”.


Recall that $500 was initially announced as BTA for each of the pilgrims. The money was later reduced to $400 by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) due to the instability in forex exchange rate, after some pilgrims, especially those on the second flight had already collected it in full.


The Flynas Airline, which conveyed the pilgrims departed Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos at 2.12 am (Nigerian time), touched down safely at the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Madinah, Saudi Arabia at 10.50 am (Saudi Arabian time) on Sunday, May 26, 2024, after about seven hours journey.


Among government functionaries aboard the Flynas Airline XY8060 were the Special Adviser to the Governor on Islamic Matters, Dr. Ahmad Abdullahi Jebe; Board Chairman, Imam (Engr.) Shakiru Ayinde Gafar and Prof. Kabir Paramole, Board member representing Badagry division of the state.