By Ajape Sefiu A.
…Seeks for post-Hajj Conference to address challenges

The Lagos State government has concluded the 2024 Hajj exercise with the safe arrival of the last and final batch of state pilgrims from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Flynas flight XY9066 touched down at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos with 401 pilgrims and 11 officials, which comprised 144 Lagos pilgrims and 257 Osun State pilgrims.

The Hajj operation was successful, according to Hon. Ibrahim Layode, State Commissioner of Home Affairs and Amir-ul-Hajj, who was speaking to reporters as they arrived at the airport tarmac.

Layode, who was visibly elated, appreciated the pilgrims for their exemplary conduct while in the Holy Land, promising that the state would work to improve on the few challenges observed during the exercise.

He mentioned that a post-Hajj conference is expected to be convened with the stakeholders by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, to address some of the glitches towards finding a lasting solution.

“We give glory to Almighty God for the successful completion of this spiritual journey and I am indeed grateful to all the critical stakeholders that made this happen.

“It was an encouraging journey with adequate preparations by the Saudi authority to ensure that all pilgrims had a hitch-free exercise and the effort of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, was also tremendous, as they put up a good spirit, which made the exercise a huge success.

“Looking ahead, we know that when the National Hajj Commission completes the whole operation, they will convene a Post Hajj Conference that will involve the Amirul-Hajj of all the states of the federation with their Pilgrim Boards and this will enable us to dissect the operation for the year and look at areas of improvement in the coming year and we are all looking forward to that meeting,” he said.

The commissioner also extended his appreciation to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Kadiri Hamzat for their support to the pilgrims and the board, saying the support contributed greatly to the success recorded during the exercise.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Islamic Matters, Dr. Abdullahi Jebe Ahmad, who appreciated the state government and the pilgrims for their support, acknowledged the effort of the Saudi authority for consistently creating an improved ambience for the pilgrims, which has made this year’s Hajj exercise a memorable one, particularly for the Lagos State pilgrims.

Chairman, Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Imam Shakiru Gafar, thanked God for a successful operation, as he appreciated the pilgrims who spent their wealth, health and time to serve the Almighty God, with the assurance by the Board of a better operation in the coming year.

Recall that about 1,869 pilgrims were airlifted for the holy pilgrimage exercise by the state and the return journey, which started on June 23 and climaxed on July 3. Apart from the late Oloshogbo Isiaka Idris, who lost his life during the period, all other pilgrims have been safely airlifted back home to their families and friends, while some left for their bases in the USA and UK directly from Saudi Arabia.