President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday in Abuja restated the commitment of the Federal Government to ensure the safety of Nigerian pilgrims throughout their stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Mr Buhari, represented by the FCT Minister, Musa Bello, gave the assurance while inaugurating first flight for the 2018 Hajj with pilgrims from Kogi State, at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
He said that government would do everything possible within the ambit of the law to ensure the comfort and security of Nigerian pilgrims from the point of departure until they return to Nigeria.
He, however, advised the pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the country and to fervently pray for Nigeria to overcome its security, socioeconomic and political challenges.
“The Federal Government will continue to provide all the needed support to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims leave the soil of Nigeria safely, go to Saudi Arabia and perform hajj successfully and come back,” Mr Buhari said.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Abdullahi Muhammad, thanked the President for his support and understanding whenever the commission sought for assistance to diligently deliver its mandate.
Mr Muhammad also applauded the Kogi State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board for keeping to the arrangement, which ensured a smooth inaugural ceremony of the first batch of Nigerian pilgrims from Kogi at the Airport.
In his speech, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Nigeria, Adnan Bostaj, assured that the Kingdom had made all necessary arrangements to ensure the comfort and well being of pilgrims before, during and after the Hajj rites.
He, however, appealed to Nigerian pilgrims to strictly adhere to Saudi Arabia rules and regulations, which are not punitive, but meant to serve them better.
The Chairman House Committee on Nigeria-Saudi Inter-Parliamentary Relations, Abdullahi Silame, urged Nigerian pilgrims to reciprocate government gestures in ensuring that they perform Hajj, which is an important pillar of Islam with little or no stress.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that no fewer than 502 pilgrims from Kogi and NAHCON officials including some members of the National Media Team boarded Max Air direct to Prince Muhammad Bin Sultan International Airport, Madinah.