FROM: PAUL ORUDE, BAUCHI
These are not the best of times for no fewer than 2,201 intending
pilgrims from Bauchi State as they still await to be airlifted to Saudi
Arabia for this year’s hajj operation with six days to deadline.
Lamenting their plight to journalists, on Monday, at the Games Village
transit camp and the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport,
Bauchi, they expressed fears that less than a week to the closure of
airports in Saudi Arabia, they were yet to leave the shores of Nigeria.
The Saudi authorities announced that airports would be closed this
Saturday, August 26, for flights bringing in pilgrims to the Holy Land, while hajj rites proper were expected to commence fully two days later.
Despite this arrangement, of the 3,090 intending pilgrims from the state, only 889 have so far been airlifted as of Monday morning from the state capital.
A total of 2,201 intending pilgrims were yet to be airlifted.
The affected ones urged the state government to urgently do something with a view to ensuring that all of them were airlifted before the closure of airports in Saudi Arabia to enable them perform this year’s hajj.
But a member of the state’s Amirul Hajj Committee, Alhaji Uba Ahmed
Nana, who is also the state’s chairman of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), has allayed the fear of the intending pilgrims.
Uba Nana assured that all of them would be airlifted before the Saturday deadline.
He informed that the airlift of intending pilgrims was being done on the state-by-state basis.
The APC Chairman said: “This is the turn of Bauchi state and we shall
fly all our intending pilgrims. No intending pilgrim will be left out
even though time is not on our side.”
According to him, preparation for the exercise had been going on even before the airlift commenced and assured that there was no cause
“Bauchi State has just airlifted 889 out of 3090 intending pilgrims
today (August 21) while the closing date is August 26. So there is no
cause for alarm.”
He added as of Monday, the third batch of intending pilgrims of 300
had been airlifted from the airport to Saudi Arabia.
He said: “So far the total number airlifted as of today is 889
intending pilgrims who are already in Saudi.”