By Idris Abdulrahman
Thousands of Nigerian pilgrims, who performed this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia are now idle in the Holy Land, waiting anxiously for their return journey to Nigeria.
The pilgrims completed the rites on Aug. 20, the Arafat Day, after the symbolic throwing of pebbles at the Devil on three consecutive days.
The process also took them to observe the final rites involving the circumambulation of the Holy Ka’aba, the most sacred site in Islam in the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
They also undertook the mandatory Sa’ee (shuttling between Safaa and Marwa) seven times after going round the Ka’aba.
Alhaji Abubakar Imam, a pilgrim from Sokoto state, said: “our attention is now on home. We are pleased and thankful to Allah for allowing us a peaceful Hajj”.
He appealed to the Nigerian Hajj Commission to begin the home-bound journey to enable pilgrims reunite with their families.
Abdullahi Gwale from Kano State said the Hajj had been smooth and largely successful, adding that pilgrims were now nostalgic.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the leadership of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) began perfecting its preparations for the exercise on Friday when it held a general meeting with its Hajj staff in Makkah.
It was also attended by board members to strategise on achieving a hitch-free return.
The inaugural flight from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage took off on July 21 with 446 pilgrims from Kogi.
The flight was followed by transportation of over 300 from Nasarawa State on Max Air.
According to the schedule, the return journey has been slated to begin on Aug. 29.
But the commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, while addressing Kogi pilgrims in Mina, near Makkah, said the return journey could start with any of the airlines.
He promised to consider transporting the same contingent back home in the first flight.
Those transporting Nigeria’s 55,000 pilgrims include Fly Nass, Medview and Max Air.