Why I am performing this year’s hajj with Niger pilgrims —Gov

GOVERNOR Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State has explained that he decided to join pilgrims from the state to perform this year’s hajj in Saudi Arabia in order to identify with the pilgrims, determine their challenges and identify ways of improving on the spiritual experience in subsequent years.

The governor made the clarification at the Minna International Airport in an interview with journalists before he departed for the holy land with 527 pilgrims who formed the last batch of the intending hajjis and hajjas for this year from the state.

“Since I became governor in 2015, I have never travelled with the pilgrims. I want to know how they feel and how they are treated. I have received reports in the past years from different hajj committees but I decided to travel with the pilgrims this time around to see things for myself so that if there are areas that need improvement, we will address that before subsequent trips,” Bello said.

The governor stated further that while in the holy land, he and the rest of the pilgrims would pray against the increasing wave of insecurity for the peace and economic prosperity of the state in particular and the country in general.

Earlier, the state’s Amirul Hajj, Inuwa Musa Kuta, had disclosed that the Niger State Pilgrims Welfare Board (NSPWB) had improved the allowances for the Area Pilgrims Welfare Officers (APWOs) to enhance their efficiency.

He charged the officers and the intending pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state by obeying Saudi laws and concentrating on the hajj rites and other obligations.

The acting Executive Secretary of NSPWB, Alhaji Umar Makun Lapai, said a total of 3,273 intending pilgrims and officials from the state would be observing the hajj this year.

He said the state government had made arrangements to provide the pilgrims with three square meals and to establish a first-of-its-kind clinic in one of the pilgrims’ accommodations in Makkah.

While acknowledging improvement in the process of visa issuance this year, Alhaji Umar Makun Lapai attributed delays experienced during some of the flights to the absence of written flight schedules and urged the Federal Government to look into the issue.