By Salisu Sani-Idris
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says it has introduced new policy on accommodation in Madinah which allow pilgrims to spend only five days in the holy city.
The commission’s Deputy Director, Information and Publications, Malam Mousa Ubandawaki, made this known in a statement on Wednesday.
Ubandawaki, who said that the policy would take effect on June 8, added that it became imperative following complaints of overcrowding of Nigerian pilgrims in the city of Madinah.
He said: “A new set of rule which will make it mandatory for pilgrims in Madinah to be moved to Makkah after five days stay in the second holiest city will take effect from Thursday, June 8, 2023.
“It is important to note that for the first time in a long time, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) is given 100 per cent Nigerian pilgrims the opportunity to visit Madinah in the first phase or before Arafat.
“However, to achieve this and in order to avert sanctions against the country if there are pilgrims overcrowding in Madinah, the commission had to adopt the new policy, after wide consultations and exhaustive deliberation.”
Ubandawaki noted that it was a known fact that Nigerian pilgrims lived in the exclusive Markaziyya area during their stay in Madinah.
According to him, the decision has been overwhelmingly commended and for which the commission never intended to compromise.
“However, if the policy must be sustained, then the number of days our pilgrims must stay in Madinah had to be reduced. As it is well known that Hajj is fast changing with new developments and realities.
“If the commission must achieve the objectives of making the 2023 Hajj seamless and comfortable for our pilgrims, it is important to synchronise the transportation of pilgrims to the Holy land with the bed space available.
“So that the commission won’t be penalised for transporting more pilgrims into Madinah than the available accommodation or be forced to take the pilgrims to another area which are well below the standard of the current Markaziyya,” he said.
Ubandawaki said as tough the decision may seem, the commission felt it was a necessary action that needed to be taken.
“So that we won’t be at the receiving end of Saudi laws and at the same time it was considered more utilitarian for Nigerian pilgrims to spend five days in Madinah.
“Thereby allowing more pilgrims to travel to Madinah in the first phase from where they would be moved to Makkah to continue with their Hajj rites, than to delay their departure for want of bed spaces in the Prophet’s city.
“We, therefore, crave for the understanding and support of the pilgrims, Hajj officials and indeed stakeholders for the successful implementation of this policy. We should not give up the gains we have so far achieved.”
Ubandawaki reiterated the commitment of the commission to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims receive the best quality service in terms of facilities and welfare.
According to him, the commission is left with no choice than to adopt this measure in the overall interest of Nigerian Pilgrims. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Modupe Adeloye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola