The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has sent his condolences to the family of Alhaja Kuburat Adunni Shekoni who lost her life in Makkah in the early hours of Wednesday, after completing the Hajj rites.
The Amir-ul-Hajj, Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi disclosed this while addressing a press conference organised by the Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board to brief the press about the 2023 Hajj operations, at Al Dera Hotel, Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday.
Elegushi stated that the Governor was very sad about the development when the news was broken to him, saying that his (Governor) hope was to have all the 3,662 pilgrims back home alive.
While urging the family to accept the situation as the wish of Allah, he on behalf of the government and good people of the State prayed to God to forgive her shortcomings and grant her Aljanat Fridaus. He also prayed to Allah to give the family the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.
Elegushi stressed further that the deceased, a 66 years old female pilgrim from Oshodi-Isolo Local Council, was found dead in the bathroom by her roommate. He said that the cause of her death was yet unknown, adding that the NAHCON medical center would give the details after their investigation.
Meanwhile, the Amir-ul-Hajj has announced that the Lagos pilgrims will start their return journey to Nigeria today (July 7) with a ‘special flight’ expected to airlift all the elderly and those with medical challenges. He added that the airlifting exercise would run through 8, 9, 10 till July 22 when the officials would be airlifted.
He expressed the hope that having informed the pilgrims about the rules on luggage, the pilgrims would stick to the 32kg allowed by the airline for main luggage and desist from carrying water or any liquid item in their bags, saying that their ZamZam water had already been transported to Nigeria awaiting the pilgrims’ arrival.
Speaking on the issues of inadequate bed spaces and feeding in Muna, the immediate past Hon. Commissioner for Home Affairs, absolved the State and NAHCON of any blame, saying that the fault was from the Saudi Arabia authorities that failed to make adequate provision for bed spaces commensurate with the number of pilgrims that participated in the exercise this year.
On the issue of feeding, he opined that the respective states should be allowed to engage their own indigenous professional caterers to provide local delicacies for their pilgrims instead of giving the sole rights to the Arabs.
He also appealed to NAHCON to seek working permits for medical personnel brought by the states in order to be able to provide first aid for pilgrims with medical challenges. He noted that this would complement NAHCON’s efforts and reduce pressures being experienced by the personnel in its clinics.
Elegushi urged NAHCON to reduce its autonomy and relinquish some rights to the states welfare boards. “NAHCON should trust us to deliver on some activities if given the chance. They should trust the states to handle things, entrust certain activities to us and guide us”, he said.
Speaking on future plans, the Amir-ul-Hajj said that with effect from next year, the Board would go digital on the sales of Hajj form. He said, “As from next year, the purchase of Hajj form, payment for Hajj fare and all processes would be done online in order to reduce paper work and time.” He also added that there would be improvement in accommodation and feeding for the pilgrims.
He seized the occasion of the briefing to express his gratitude to the Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat for their unflinching support which is immeasurable to the success of the exercise.
He also thanked the former Special Adviser to the Governor on Islamic matters, Dr. Ahmad Abdullahi Jebe; the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mrs. Lolade Aina; Board Chairman, Imam (Engr.) Shakiru Ayinde Gafar; Board members; Secretary and members of staff for their support and cooperation.
He extended his gratitude to the entire pilgrims for following instructions, conducting themselves in a proper manner and being good Ambassadors of the State while in the holy land, saying that their conduct prompted the Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Yahya Lawal to describe them as the most disciplined pilgrims in the 2033 Hajj operation, during his visit to their tent in Mina.
Present at the briefing are, former SA to the Governor on Islamic matters, Dr. Ahmad Abdullahi Jebe; Board Chairman, Imam (Engr.) Shakiru Ayinde Gafar; Prof. AbdulKabir Paramole (Badagry division) and Dr. (Mrs.) Faosat Dabiri (Lagos division).
Others include, Alh. Yusuf Ara (Epe division). Hon. AbdulWaheed Shonibare (Ikeja division); Alh. Mojeed Sanni (Ikorodu division) and the Board Secretary, Mr. Saheed Onipede.