The Executive Chairman of Yobe State Pilgrims Commission, Barr. Ibrahim Al-Arab, has explained that the state commission has almost completed the arrangement of the 2016 Hajj for Yobe State contingent to Saudi Arabia.
The Chairman who was fielding questions from journalists in his office in Damaturu also disclosed that the state government this year declined to appoint an Amiral Hajj for the state due to the harsh economic realities in the country, adding that the Hajj seats allocated to the state are yet to be purchased by prospective pilgrims.
The air-lift of the pilgrims which is supposed to commence by this week according to Barr. Al-Arab is being held back due to some minor logistics but gave the assurance that they would be surmounted within a good time to enable the pilgrims begin their journey to the holy land in good time.
“By the date and guideline of schedule, our pilgrims are supposed to (have starting taking) off on Friday August 12 but we have some snags such as non-availability of BTA. We are also yet to receive the air carriers which is FlyNas for us to know what they have on ground. We are still waiting for them to arrive Damaturu and brief us of their state of preparedness; thirdly, we are still compiling the list of the first flight.
“Notwithstanding, the office has been working assiduously to ensure that everything is properly put in place. But I want assure you that the situation is not bad because everything is on ground for the pilgrims. The money is there at the Central Bank, their uniforms are ready,” Barr. Al-Arab explained.
He also added: “Our state of preparedness has taken us to almost at the point of closing payments for this year’s pilgrimage. So far we have recorded over 1,800 pilgrims. The allocation to the state was 2231, we have not been able to exhaust all but we do hope that many will still come.
“As you are aware, there is a screening process going on with medical expert dispatched to screen the sick and the aged who have manifestations of not being healthy enough to perform the exercise so also the pregnant women who by law should not be attending. We recorded 11 women that were disqualified last year due to pregnancy”.
“The National Hajj Commission in conjunction with the state commissions of Borno and Yobe are putting in place general repair work at the transit camp and Maiduguri International Airport preparatory to arrival of the pilgrims“, he said.
Speaking on the core mandate of his commission, the Executive Chairman explained that his staff are not resting to ensure a hitch free exercise for the pilgrims from the state.
“Essentially, the work of this commission is to ensure the welfare of the pilgrims during the movement to and from Saudi Arabia. If that is achieved, then we are completely done. We are no oblivious of the fact that the media plays a critical role in our operations as a commission,” he explained.
He also explained that the BTA has been reduced to two categories by the National Hajj Commission to the minimum and medium.