2018 Hajj operations kicked off from Nigeria on the 21st July, 2018 from Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja. On board the Max Air airbus flight number VM 3001were pilgrims from Kogi State and officials of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON.
The inaugural flight which took off at exactly 14: 51 Nigerian time had on board a total of 446 Kogi pilgrims and another 56 NAHCON officials drawn from the medical, media as well as other essential services departments.
In his speech at the inaugural ceremony, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Honorable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Musa Bello, called upon the pilgrims to remain law abiding while assuring them that government will do everything necessary to safeguard their security in the country and in Saudi Arabia. He commended NAHCON for its commitment to its responsibilities and prayed for successful Hajj operations while also requesting for prayers for the country.
Similarly, the Saudi Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Adnan Mahmoud Bostaji, assured the pilgrims that his country has concluded arrangements towards receiving guests of the Almighty in the Kingdom.
NAHCON Chairman, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Mohammed, in his submission, called on the pilgrims to abide by the regulations of the host country and be worthy ambassadors of the country in Saudi Arabia. He thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for honoring President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to expand the number of biometric data capturing centers in the country, to which the Saudi authorities responded by providing each major city with a biometric center in addition to mobile units. He described this gesture as one of the feats that facilitated the timely start of the Hajj exercise. The Chairman also commended Federal Government for the support it readily renders to NAHCON. He further praised Kogi State Pilgrims Welfare Board for its preparedness
Other dignitaries at the occasion include Chairman, House of Representative Committee on Nigeria- Saudi Arabia Parliamentary Friendship and Hajj Affairs, members of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Customs, representative of the Executive Secretary, National Christian Pilgrms Commission and several others.
Meanwhile the Max Air flight landed in Madina yesterday and at hand to receive the pilgrims were Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Rtd Justice Isa Dodo, the Consul General of Nigeria, Alhaji Yunusa Muhammad and other NAHCON officials. They were immediately moved to and lodged at the Andalus District, few meters to the Holy Mosque in Madina. The pilgrims will observe an eight day stay in the city before being moved to Makkah. They will be fed twice a day throughout their stay.