he National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has announced the implementation of a new rule that will require Nigerian pilgrims in Madina to be moved to Makkah after a five-day stay in the city. The decision comes in response to concerns about overcrowding of Nigerian pilgrims in Madina, the second holiest city in Saudi Arabia.
According to a statement from NAHCON’s Deputy Director of Information and Publications, Alhaji Mousa Ubandawaki, the new policy allows Nigerian pilgrims to visit Madina before Arafat, a phase that was previously not accessible to all pilgrims. The decision was reached after extensive consultations and discussions with key stakeholders, aiming to avoid any sanctions against Nigeria due to overcrowding issues in Madina.
The statement explains that Nigerian pilgrims have traditionally stayed in the exclusive Markaziyya area in Madina, a decision that has received widespread praise and one that the commission is committed to maintaining. However, to ensure the sustainability of the policy, the number of days pilgrims stay in Madina needs to be reduced.
The evolving nature of Hajj and the need to align the airlift of pilgrims with the available accommodation is cited as a driving factor behind the decision. NAHCON emphasizes that this measure is necessary to prevent violating Saudi laws and to avoid relocating pilgrims to areas below the standards of the current Markaziyya.
While acknowledging the difficulty of this decision, NAHCON believes it is a necessary action to allow more pilgrims to travel to Madina in the initial phase before moving them to Makkah for the continuation of their Hajj rites. The commission seeks the understanding and support of pilgrims, Hajj officials, and stakeholders in the successful implementation of this policy.
NAHCON reiterates its commitment to providing the best quality service in terms of facilities and welfare for Nigerian pilgrims. The commission views this policy as a means to maintain the progress made so far and prioritize the overall interests of Nigerian pilgrims.