Hajj 2024: First batch of Nigerian pilgrims depart for Saudi Arabia

The Federal Government of Nigeria has pledged its continued support and assistance to hajj and other legitimate religious journeys to ensure both the temporal and spiritual well-being of Nigerians.

Vice President, Alhaji Kashim Shettima pledged on Wednesday in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital at the official flag-off of the 2024 Hajj airlifting operations, with the inaugural departure of Nigerian intending pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Alhaji Shettima with other dignitaries including Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Nasiru Idris; Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Saad III, the Commission’s Chairman/CEO, Mal. Jalal Arabi presided over the inaugural flight that saw about 422 Kebbi pilgrims, 7 officials on FlyNas flight XY8002 that departed Sir Ahmadu Bello International Airport, Kebbi State, for Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, Madinah, Saudi Arabia.

Senator Shettima

The Vice President lamented that it was a daunting task for the federal government to tame the dangerous slide in the value of the Naira to the dollar, in which the government had to cough out over ninety billion Naira as assistance to cushion the unpleasant effect of the Naira free fall on intending pilgrims.

He stated that because of the importance the government attaches to hajj, it painstakingly took time to appoint competent, dependable, reliable, experienced and seasoned administrators to run the affairs of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON.

Alhaji Shettima called on the pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the country in the holy land and to pray for peace, harmony, tranquillity, development and progress for Nigeria and Nigerians.

NAHCON chairman pledges to build on the successes of predecessors

Earlier in his welcome address, NAHCON Boss, Mal. Arabi pledged to build on the successes of his predecessors in the area of self-reliance and sustainability through vigorous sourcing and utilisation of resources harnessed from Nigeria’s hajj ecosystem without any extra burden and financial responsibility on prospective Nigerian intending pilgrims.


The Chairman of the Commission said since the year 2019, NAHCON has shown that Nigeria’s hajj industry can remain independent of government funding, saying, from that year, the Commission had funded its offshore operations without going cap-in-hand to the government for handouts to execute the annual religious event.

Malam Jalal Arabi said that today NAHCON has thrown away that parasitic cassock that belittled its status in the past and that now the Commission was steadily contributing to the Nigerian economy through empowerment of the nation’s airline industry and empowering local caterers to travel to Saudi Arabia for paid labour, as the Commission insisted that only Nigerians who know the various Nigerian cuisines should be engaged to prepare and serve indigenous meals to Nigerian pilgrims in the holy land.

This, he said, has made it possible for our indigenous food items to be transported to Saudi Arabia, and other Nigerians as a labour force to enhance communication with pilgrims, thereby boosting the nation’s GDP.

Malam Jalal Arabi, who leads the fifth board of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, therefore called on Nigerian governments at all levels to support NAHCON in its drive to boost revenue generation for its activities and operations which will positively have a replica effect on the nation’s economy in general.

Give financial, material support to intending pilgrims, Kebbi Gov directs officials

Alhaji Nasiru Idris, the Kebbi State Governor, on his part, directed all commissioners, political appointees, and local government-elected officials in the State to give financial and material assistance to each intending pilgrim from their respective areas and constituencies to cushion the hard effects of the high fares of this year’s hajj.

Kebbi Governor

He said this was in addition to the state government’s contribution to the pilgrims to balance up the fares when they were finally announced by the authorities concerned.

Alhaji Nasiru Idris called on hajj officials to be diligent in their responsibilities to the pilgrims to ease the performance of their religious rites, which they invested much to accomplish.

He enjoined the pilgrims to be steadfast in observance of the rites of hajj and that they should ensure total compliance to laid down rules and regulations, obedience and cooperation with pilgrim officials, urging them to pray for the country to overcome all challenges.

Sultan thanks Tinubu for bringing hope to pilgrims 

In his goodwill message, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alh Sa’ad Abubakar III thanked the federal government of Nigeria for bringing hope to the pilgrims when the exchange rate challenge became heightened.

Sultan of Sokoto

He described it as the outcome of the renewed hope agenda of this government.

The Royal Father urged the pilgrims to pray positively for government and to avoid praying negatively for their leaders because the effect of such prayers always boomerangs.

About 65,000 Nigerian pilgrims to perform Hajj

The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commission, Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi had earlier revealed that approved carriers for the spiritual journey to the holy land are fully ready for the airlift of pilgrims from 10 departure centres.

Arabi disclosed that about 65,000 Muslims from Nigeria would be performing this year’s pilgrimage, assuring readiness and commitment to airlift everyone to and from Saudi Arabia without any hassle.

The figure (about 65,000), he said, represents the cumulative contingents of state pilgrims welfare boards/agencies/commissions and private tour operators.

“All pilgrims of state pilgrims welfare boards/agencies/commissions will be visiting Madinah Munawarrah for a maximum of four days before the hajj exercise. This is a major change from the operations of hajj in the last decade,” he added.

L-R: Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Saad III; NAHCON Boss, Mal Jalal Arabi; Vice President, Alhaji Kashim Shettima and Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Nasiru Idris at the inaugural flight of the 2024 Hajj in Kebbi

Muslim News gathered that the onward airlift of Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia will last until the 10th day of June or hopefully earlier as pilgrims travel in groups of 45 under Saudi Arabia’s guidelines.

This year’s hajj rites are expected to commence from the evening of Friday, June 14 till the evening of Wednesday, June 19. The timing is contingent upon the sighting of the moon of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar.

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