By Ade Kunle
THE Amir-UL–Hajj of Osun Pilgrims’ Welfare Board, Alhaji Zikrullah Olakunle Hassan, has disclosed that Seven hundred and twenty-four (724) intending pilgrims are expected to perform in this year Hajj pilgrimage.
He said this while addressing the intending pilgrims, during the Farewell Ceremony for the 2016 Intending Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
Alhaji Hassan said out of 845 seats given to Osun by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON), 742 have been successfully certified by the Board to embark to Saudi Arabia for this year Hajj.
He revealed that Osun State in the Southwest Nigeria would be the first to be airlifted and first to come back from Saudi Arabia for this year Hajj pilgrimage, while it is Zamfara state in the Northern region.
He added that it is only the two states that would be first airlifted and first to arrive to Nigeria for 2016 Hajj pilgrimage.
Alhaji Hassan who described this year Hajj pilgrimage as six of its kind to be organized by the current administration of Governor Aregbesola, said the present government in the state has changed the performance of Hajj for good over the years.
Osun Amir-UL–Hajj said in line with the shift in government policy regarding sponsorship of pilgrims in the state, the Board has planned this year Hajj without committing the state fund to the organization and management of the Hajj exercise.
He disclosed that out of the three categories of award dole out by National Hajj Commission for 2015 Hajj, two awards were given to the state, adding that the 6th best organized state and the 5th best in education and enlightenment in a competition among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria.
Alhaji Hassan said a letter of recommendation for good sanitation had ealier been awarded to the state by the National Hajj Commission.
He assured all the pilgrims that the board will not leave any stone unturned towards ensuring comfort throughout the period of the journey.
Alhaji Hassan who said the Board has made provision for accommodation in Makkah which has been classified as grade A by the Hajj regulator (NAHCON), Abuja, added that the Board would give all the intending pilgrims electronic wrist-band, which has tracking device to locate pilgrims whenever in distress.
According to him, “we have made provision for three Stars Hotel with all modern conveniences ensuite. We have also made provision for internet facilities in the hotel with standard toilets, kitchens and plasma television.
“We have provision for adequate provisions of Ihram cloth, Uniform, Ziyarah as well as arrangement for the medical and welfare of all pilgrims throughout the Hajj exercise, with two meals per day.
“Apart from the traditional Uniform (Ankara) for ease of identification, each pilgrim would be given an electronic wrist-band, which has tracking device to locate pilgrims whenever in distress.
He further assured that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abuja has assured befitting accommodation for all the Nigerian Pilgrims this year, at a location which is less than 10 minutes walk from Harram.
Alhaji Hassan lauded Governor Aregbesola for supporting and assisting the board at all times, just as he assured the state of perfect representation in the holy land in a way befitting Omoluabi ethos.
He charged this year’s contingent to brace up for the challenges ahead so as to maintain and possibly improve on the achievements recorded in previous years.