The disappointment that greeted the Adamawa state participants in the 2014 pilgrimage to Mecca appears not to be over as they are stranded in the Holy Land and say they still do not know the date and time of their return to the country.
The pilgrims, over 1000 of them, are in panic mode and say they are stranded in the Holy City after the Hajj ended, with no official of the National Hajj Commission, NAHCO, telling them the next line of action.
Some disenchanted pilgrims said they expected to travel to Medina to perform their farewell rites before returning to Nigeria but had not been told of arrangements to that effect.
One of the pilgrims, Abdur Razaq Halliru, alleged that they were neglected by NAHCO and prevailed on the commission to provide them with information on travel arrangements back to Nigeria.
“It seems to have become a perennial thing for potential Muslim pilgrims to expect the difficulties and problems associated with the organization of the Hajj in Adamawa,” he said.
“After all the hullabaloo that surrounded the initial airlifting from Yola, we thought the officials would have learnt a lot of lessons,” said Mr. Halliru.
Another stranded female pilgrim, who simple identified herself as Hajiya Hauwa’u, explained further that the pilgrimage to Mecca – one of the five pillars of Islam, is of spiritual significance to every Muslim.
“This spiritual obligation should, therefore, not be seen to be taken away from the potential pilgrims, through no fault of theirs. The act of performing the Hajj should be a spiritually joyous occasion for pilgrims, but the reverse has been the case in our state.
“We cannot understand why pilgrims will be made to pay, only to be left unattended to, due to someone’s organisational inefficiency,” she said.
The government owes it us as a duty to intervene now, rather than wait for the situation to get out of hand and get to the Saudi government to evacuate us back to Nigeria,” Ms. Hawwa said.
Another pilgrim, Mukhtar Nasir, said he wanted to return home immediately the Hajj ended. He said he felt homesick and wanted to come home.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the state executive secretary of the Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Umar Bobboi, he said “we are working assiduously to see that the airlift of the pilgrims commences in earnest”.
Mr. Bobboi said the delay was not from the state officials but with NAHCO which “is yet to release the flight schedule,” he said.
The executive secretary, therefore, appealed for calm as according to him, “no pilgrim will be left stranded, pilgrims should not get worried”.
Pilgrims from Adamawa State had while departing Nigeria held a plane hostage for several hours at the Aminu Kano International Airport as a result of Kabo airline’s delay in airlifting them to Saudi Arabia.