The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has taken responsibility for its failure to airlift no fewer than 1,809 intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj exercise.
It was gathered that despite multiple extensions of landing permits by the Saudi authorities, many Nigerian intending pilgrims missed the religious rite.
But a statement on Friday by the NAHCON spokesperson, Fatima Usara, said the commission was incapacitated in discharging this responsibility due to last-minute setbacks.
According to Mrs Usara, the failure to secure accreditation by some chartered flight and private tour operators contributed to the unfortunate incident.
“Unfortunately, the chartered flight option that gave so much hope to NAHCON and the Private Tour Operators’ leadership also became a failure as their IBAN accounts failed accreditation by the respective authorities in Saudi Arabia,” the statement noted.
Giving the breakdown of the numbers of intending pilgrims who missed the exercise, Mrs Usara, said: “They are: 12 pilgrims from Bauchi state; 97 pilgrims from Plateau state; 700 pilgrims from Kano state and an estimated 1000 pilgrims from the Private Tour Operators sector”.
While apologizing to Nigerians, the Commission promised to refund all affected pilgrims as it pledged to work towards improving its deficiencies next time.
“The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) humbly acknowledges the following: that it owes deep and unreserved regrets to entire intending pilgrims to 2022 Hajj for the hardships and disappointments experienced during outbound airlift operations to the holy land.
“The Commission offers similar apologies to the federal government of Nigeria, State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards, Private Tour Operators, and the general public for any embarrassment the situation of the past few weeks might have caused,” Mrs Usara said.
“NAHCON has learnt a lot of lessons and is determined not to have a repetition of the unfortunate situation. Management knows that no number of apologies could pay for the disappointments some Muslim faithful are currently experiencing as a result.”