National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has urged pilgrims to cooperate with national and state officials to get the best from the various modifications in the conduct of this year’s Hajj.
NAHCON Deputy Coordinator for Makkah, Alhaji Alidu Shutti, stated this during an on-the-spot assessment of Muna, Arafat, Muzdalifa and Jamrat Holy sites in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on Monday.
He said that the officials had been working with different service providers assigned to Nigeria to schedule movements of pilgrims during the three-day stay in the Holy sites.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Holy sites, which are core rituals in the performance of Hajj, are the locations where all the pilgrims from across the globe will camp for the four days and be performing the same act simultaneously.
NAN also reports that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah introduced the movement to reduce incidences of getting lost and overcrowding as well as avoiding fatalities among pilgrims.
It reduced the number of pilgrims going for the stoning of the devil at Jamrat from 250 to 90 at a time from each state.
It also scheduled the time that buses would convey the pilgrims from Arafat to Muzdalifa for staying some part of the night.
Similarly, to ensure better control, the Saudi authorities also introduced a fine of 50,000 riyals (about N11.5 million) and six months’ imprisonment for anyone doing the Hajj without permission.
Shutti said that NAHCON would ensure that pilgrims were given the best service in the Holy sites.
“For the past three weeks, the Saudi authorities have been working on these sites and today, you can see the difference, even from when we visited last week Monday.
“The sleeping spaces are ready; the toilets have been modernised, while the air conditioning system is also working.
“Nigerian pilgrims have been allocated service areas from one to 18. One to 14 is allocated to states pilgrims while four is for private tour operators to camp their pilgrims.
“NAHCON will ensure that pilgrims perform their religious rites comfortably,” he said.
Similarly, Head of NAHCON Medical mission in Madina, Dr Hamidu Liman, has urged pilgrims to keep fit for the five-day stay at the Holy sites and beyond.
He urged them to take time out of their spiritual exercise to rest and eat good food in order to maintain good health.
”The Hajj rites, as you know, are very tedious and rigorous exercise. We are here for Ibadat and we must do it, but as much as possible, we must find time in-between to rest and eat good food,’’ he said. (NAN)