The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Saturday called on intending pilgrims for the 2018 Hajj to make early preparation to avoid unnecessary challenges.
Mr Yusuf Adebayo, the NAHCON’s Commissioner in charge of Policy, Personnel Management and Finance, made the call at a stakeholders’ meeting on the 2018 Hajj in Lagos.
“Most of the challenges we usually face are due to late preparation and the Saudi Authorities have taken stringent steps to ensure that they do not recur in 2018.
“This informs why a deadline of March 31 has been fixed for all hajj payments, because all payments are expected to get to Saudi Arabia by April,’’ he said.
Adebayo urged the pilgrims to always adhere strictly to the regulations guarding hajj exercise so as to enjoy full spiritual benefits of the exercise.
“We have also observed that some Nigerians do not know the importance of hajj; when they get to Mecca they engage in unwholesome activities that have no spiritual benefit.
“Saudi Authorities have recommended that intending pilgrims should be tutored on the importance of hajj before they embark on the pilgrimage.
“We implore all states Pilgrims Boards to rise up to the challenge,” he said.
Adebayo also advised the pilgrims to stop the idea of absconding after pilgrimage, saying that Saudi Authorities would always find them out, saying there is no hiding place in Mecca.
He regretted that 900 Nigerians absconded after the 2017 hajj.
“We have also observed that some Nigerians do not return with their state contingents after the pilgrimage; some do not even perform the hajj rites before absconding,’’ Adebayo said.
Also, Mr Muftau Okoya, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Muslims Pilgrim Board, assured NAHCON of his board’s cooperation in all areas of preparation for the hajj.
Okoya urged intending pilgrims from the state to take advantage of the little time left to conclude their payments for the 2018 Hajj.
“I thank NAHCON for bringing this stakeholders’ meeting to Lagos.
“I assure the commission that we shall always cooperate with them.
“It is barely one month to the deadline, and I urge intending pilgrims from Lagos State to take advantage of the little time left to conclude their processes,” he said.
NAN reports that the stakeholders’ meeting was attended by NAHCON officials from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun. (NAN)