The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), on Monday, announced that it has adopted a strategy to reduce the number of days Nigerian pilgrims spend in Saudi Arabia during the pilgrimage.

The executive chairman, Jalal Arabi, made the disclosure in an interview with journalists shortly after he arrived at the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah.

Arabi explained that the commission had transported 100 per cent of Nigerian pilgrims directly to Madinah.

“If we are able to achieve this target, we hope to succeed again for the first time in reducing the number of days that Nigerians spend each time they come to perform pilgrimage.

“In the past, we saw Nigerians in disarray, loitering about while their counterparts from other countries would have been evacuated back home,’’ he said.

He commended the presidency and the National Assembly for their support for the success of the ongoing hajj operations.

Mr Arabo also commended air carriers for living up to expectations.

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“I think this day will go down in history as I don’t want to say the first time in history, but the first time in a very long time since the commencement of Hajj preparations to say that 72 hours will be the closure of Saudi air space and 100 per cent of our pilgrims are here.

“Of course, that was achieved through the cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders, both the public and the private sector,” the NAHCON boss said.

He said the commission had made adequate arrangements for feeding and medical care services for pilgrims at Masha’eer (the core hajj rites period), which is expected to start on June 13.

“We are hopeful that the principle of Tafweej (grouping of pilgrims) will come into play, where pilgrims are grouped for ease of movement and identification.

“Secondly, like we said, we have come up with an innovation in the monitoring and distribution of food, which is very critical and fundamental.

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“In fact, this is one of the reasons we won’t even stay in Madinah; myself and a few members of my team are now heading to Makkah to assess what happened and the report we have received based on what happened,” said Mr Arabi.

Mr Arabi said the commission would on Monday night invite all service providers who were indicted in one way or another to read the riot act to them.

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