From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi

The Federal Government has announced that it has released approximately N90 billion to subsidize the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage. This was disclosed by Vice President Kashim Shettima during the flag-off of the 2024 inaugural flight of Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia at Sir Ahmadu Bello International Airport in Birnin Kebbi.

Shettima emphasized the importance of Hajj in the lives of Muslims and acknowledged the challenges faced in determining the Hajj fares for 2024. He commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s leadership in addressing the falling currency value, which led to a more affordable pilgrimage cost.

“You may recall that last year, we had major challenges in arriving at the final Hajj fares of the 2024 pilgrims. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu painfully took the buck to control the viral falling of our currency to relieve Nigerians,” Shettima said. “The move that eventually succeeded in arriving at the modesty fare. The President approved the release of N90 billion to subsidize the cost of Pilgrimage to this year’s Hajj.”

Shettima urged the pilgrims to pray for the success of the administration, for peace, and for the progress of Nigeria. He emphasized the importance of their prayers for their leaders, believing that the country could be a better place with their collective prayers.

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Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, commended President Tinubu, Vice President Shettima, Kebbi State Government, and NAHCON for making the inaugural flight possible in Nigeria. He also expressed appreciation for the former Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Saidu Nasamu Dakingari, for constructing the Birnin Kebbi International Airport.

The Sultan advised Nigerian Pilgrims to be disciplined and reminded them of their good reputation for discipline over the years. He emphasized the importance of praying for Nigeria and its leaders during their pilgrimage.

Kebbi State Governor, Dr Nasir Idris, expressed his elation over the inaugural flight taking place in Kebbi. He highlighted his administration’s efforts to address challenges faced by the Pilgrims agency in the state, including constructing an aviation fuel depot and engaging an aviation consultant to maintain airport infrastructure.

Governor Idris also mentioned the provision of infrastructure facilities at the Hajj camp and stated that Kebbi was the first state in Nigeria to remit this year’s Hajj fares to NAHCON. He added that the state government paid an additional N1 million for each pilgrim.

National Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Jalal Ahmad Arabi, commended the Federal Government, Kebbi State Government, and other stakeholders for making the first airlift of pilgrims possible in Kebbi State. He urged the Nigerian pilgrims to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, follow instructions, obey the laws of Saudi Arabia, avoid prohibited items, and keep their valuables safe.