Hajj 2018: Thrills as Plateau pilgrims return

Plateau state 2018 pilgrims have returned with diverse experiences, MUHAMMAD TANKO SHITTU writes
Hajj pilgrimage compulsory Hajj pilgrimage is one of the fifth pillars of Islam, one fundamentals of the religion which Allah, has ordained every well to do or privilege adult Muslim to observe even once as compulsory in his or her life time.

Sequel to this, between July and September this year, about 58,000 Nigerians made up the about 2.3 million Muslims in the world that embarked on religious journey to Madinah and Makkah, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for the 2018 hajj pilgrimage.

And 815 out of the 2.3 Muslims from across the world that performed the 2018, hajj were from Plateau State, including this reporter.

Of this number,450 were sponsored, by the Plateau state Governor Simon Lalong.

And the journey by the Plateau State contingents commenced on 15 August 2018, in two separate flights, one of which took off from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja and the other from the Sir, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi, they both arrived the King, Muhammad Bin Abdul’azez, Airport, Madinah, safely.

For all the state contingents the journey was joyful, right from the screening processes put in place by Pilgrims welfare board under the leadership of its Executive Secretary (ES), Barr.

Auwal Abdullahi, a cleric and whose initiatives as the brand new secretary brought easiness and transparency in the affairs of the board.

Process to the journey Transparency, accountability, sincerity and easiness were what the Board lacked in the previous exercises, a hajj pilgrim said in an interview.

“This is my fifth journey to hajj pilgrimage and we have not had it as transparent and ease as now,” Alhaji Magaji Usman said.

He recounted that before now many intending pilgrims were left at home, “after they have paid all their monies, undergone screening they are not airlifted and at all times people are being told that the Saudi Arabian authority have closed issuance of visa.” According to an independent hajj monitoring group, the State Governor Simon Lalong, wouldn’t have done good rescue in the welfare board, than structuring it.

The Concerned Muslim Pilgrims Monitoring Group (CMPMG), had in a press release, issued by its chairman, Auwal Abubakar, said they are thus far, satisfied with the processes of the 2018 operations, stressing that the activities of the board connotes transparency and incorruptibility.

It said the restructuring of the board by Governor, Simon Lalong, is a good step at the direction of, “rescuing the board from serious mess and rots.” “As we continuously and keenly monitors activities of the board it is only reasonable and just to say, the acts of transparency and incorruptibility connotes activities of the board, under the leadership of its Executive Secretary Barr.

Auwal Abdullahi.” It said: “The facts that proper processes of registration, and screening of intending pilgrims are done in a more orederly manner is of importance to also commend the leadership of the board, while charging it to do more for the welfare of all intending pilgrims.” According to the group, the process and manner at which government sponsored seats were allocated to allotees and beneficiaries, transparently by the board, “without recourse to an undue external influence, as was the past practiced of the board is yet another reasons for our commendation.” “This no doubt is one of the rescuing mission of Governor Simon Lalong, whose restructuring of the board in the recent past, targeted at rescuing the board from serious mess and rots”.

The CMPMG, also commended the state government for deeming it wise to sponsor hundreds of intending pilgrims to perform this year’s hajj operation.

Governor Lalong, has while bidding them farewell urged the pilgrims to; “Ensure you also sustain your prayers for lasting peace and security around the Grand Ka’aba for Allah (SWT) to expose all agents of destabilization in our country and the State in particular,” he added.

Lalong stressed that: “We shall continue to support this by ensuring that all facilities and necessary institutional support that will guarantee the continuous performance of this exercise for our citizens is ensured.” Arrival at Saudi Arabia Upon arrival at King, Muhammad Bin Abdul’azeez, International Airport, the good image of Plateau State and Nigeria was showcased, by a female pilgrim, Hajiya Kaltume Musa, who reported that she had forgotten her e-passport inside the flight, but entered into a toilet at the airport and found 800 US dollars, being the basic travelling allowance (BTA), which she reported and was returned back to the owner, Hajiya Salamatu Musa, a fellow pilgrim.

Hajiya Kaltume, said: “I am happy that Allah has made me found the money and now that the owner has being discovered it gives me joy.” The owner of the 800 dollars, Hajiya Salamatu Musa, described Kaltume, as God fearing Muslim, “She is a good Muslim, she fears Allah believing that the amount is not her’s, I pray Allah to grant her all the good she desires in life,” she said.

Executive Secretary of the State Pilgrims welfare board Barr.

Auwal Abdullahi, also described Kaltume, as “good ambassador and Samaritan among the contingents of the State.” “What she did is highly commendable and appreciable, we pray Allah to bless her in this world and also reward her with Aljannatil Firdaus,” he said.

As Ibrahim Muhammad, a journalist said; “The fear of Almighty Allah culminates in honest deeds and merciful acts towards fellow human beings; and this is the cardinal pillar in which five pillars of Islam stands upon.

Amidst supplications, prayers, worship and struggling to fulfill the spiritual retirements of hajj, Nigerian pilgrims in this year’s hajj has displayed honesty towards a fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.” He said: “The integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari might have sunk into the behaviours and attitudes of Nigeria’s pilgrims that performed this year’s hajj,” and that there was no crime related cases with any Nigeria pilgrims in the Holly land.

Rather, five Nigerian pilgrims have founds various sums of money and return it to the owners.

Welfare Befitting hotel accommodation and feeding were provided to the pilgrims, at Madinah, as facilitated by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), and Plateau State contingents were not left out in expressing their happiness over it.

Similarly, the state contingents were kept in a good accommodation, at Makkah, though the pilgrims had expected an accommodation, so proximate to the grand Mosque, it was situated a little far, yet they said it was great having being able to trek up to the Mosque.

“We have expected our accommodation to be closer to the Mosque, but not withstanding we are still happy with what we have, this is my 6th time of coming for hajj and let me say Alhamdulillah, that we have not have it as simple and good from the pilgrims board than now,” Alhaji Tijjani Usman said.

On their parts two physically challenged, pilgrims, Alhaji Muhammad Abdul and Alhaji Inusa Dakam Shendam, on the sponsorship of Governor, Simon Lalong, said they were at Makkah for the first time, “but we are satisfied with the welfare giving us by the Executive Secretary (ES), of the board, Barr.

Auwal Abdullahi, though this is our first time but others with experiences have told us that things are now easier.” Supplications Alhaji Abdul A.

Shehu, was also of the views that the ES and his led officials have done their possible best, “and I can rate their performance to 90 percent and also call on the government to provide more incentives on time so that hajj exercise would be done effectively.” It was observed that the pilgrims have devoted their time and offered supplications for peace, unity and progress of Nigeria, most especially on the day of Arafat, where the Chief Imam of Jos, Sheikh Muhammad Lawal Adam, as well as the board ES, Barr.

Auwal Abdullahi, led them in congregational supplications, where they also prayed for President Buhari, and Governor Lalong’s led administration.

In his message of felicitation to the Muslim Umma, delivered by the ES, Governor Simon Lalong, said the significance of Arafat, in the performance of Hajj, “calls for fervent prayer specially for the peace and progress of Plateau state and Nigeria.” “As you observed this special day of Arafat, in fulfillment of hajj rituals, it is important to call on you to also pray for President, Muhammadu Buhari, seeking for Allah’s continuous guidance to lead Nigeria successfully,” he said.”The state is in need of your special prayers for the restoration and maintenance of peaceful coexistence, that will enable the government put in place more developmental projects,” he said.

During the hajj exercise the pilgims were hale and healthy, as hajj rites are completed, except female pilgrim, late Hajiya, Lubabatu Adam, that died n Makkah after a brief illness, and to that effect Governor, Lalong via the ES, commiserated with the entire Muslim Ummah, saying her death was the; “unstoppable will act of Allah,” adding that, “though Lubabatu Adam, had died but her good deeds anchored on discipline, promotion of good neighbourliness and peaceful living would be remembered at all times.” Excitement Indeed, the state pilgrims board has not had as its ES, a scholar with vast Islamic knowledge until this time around, and many are saying that was why within short period, things were put in good shape, right from staff welfare to that of the pilgrims.

Blueprint observed that the ES, has severally participated in the sharing of food and all other activities that ensured the welfare of the pilgrims, right from home to Madinah, Makkah and even back home.

These to the independent pilgrims monitoring group, were, “good works of rescue in the board and service to Allah and His servants on a journey to pilgrimage, which we must appreciate Governor, Lalong for his appointment of Barr.

Auwal Abdullahi, as ES, as they hope that more improvement will be experienced in the next exercise.

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