Lagos charges pilgrims on exemplary character
The Lagos State Muslim Pilgrim Welfare Board has urged Muslims who took part in 2017 spiritual voyage to be good ambassadors in the society.The Executive Secretary, Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Muftau Okoya, during the presentation of certificate to Lagos State pilgrims said: pilgrims that collect the Lagos state pilgrim certificate are expected to have exemplary character, they must be up and doing and be identified as good Muslims.
Noting that the certificate is evidence that pilgrims perform the spiritual exercise through Lagos State, he said: “The essence of hajj is to educate all pilgrims that everyone is equal, no disparities among races of the world and there is uniformity and a representation of the last day. It encourages love, friendship, brotherhood, open mind, making friends, and establishing contacts and proves that everything in life is vanity,”
According to him, the message Lagos State hajj operation is trying to pass to the society with the way it runs hajj operation is that once you travels with Lagos State you must be a role model that will change the society. Lagos State makes sure that all pilgrims participate in all the hajj rite and lectures are organized for them from time to time during the spiritual voyage.
“We don’t expect pilgrims to go back to their old ways of doing things because all their sins are forgiving. They should follow Quran and sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). They should be seen as good Muslims in all ramifications both religiously and socially,” he said
Okoya also stated challenges encounter during 2017 spiritual voyage in Saudi Arabia, which was overcome by the grace of Allah.He commended Lagos State pilgrims’ over the mature role played during the challenges, ensuring that these challenges were overcome with patience and understanding.
He said: “Each operation comes with its own challenges and that all challenges have solutions. So we sought for the right solutions during those problems and we still came out successfully”
“2017 greatest challenge was in Mina. There was an out surge of pilgrims because Saudi Arabia Government admitted too many pilgrims at the detriment of the available facilities. So the facilities were over stretched to the extent that Lagos pilgrims encountered the problem of accommodation in Mina”.
He explained that Hajj fare depends on the performance of the naira in the exchange market and other foreign components.
“National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has been working round the clock to reduce hajj fare but it has been very difficult because 90% of the components of hajj fare are foreign exchange”.
The executive secretary was of the opinion that the required number of days for a complete Umurah and Hajj exercise is 45 days; but the Board would have love to reduce the days to 20 if the opportunity provide itself because of the pilgrims who are private businessmen and women who are mostly affected during the long stay in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Okoya noted that fixing of hajj fare and the attendant high cost associated with it was another critical area in the last hajj operation, considering the economic recession and the hardship on the citizenry. Which resulted in late payments by pilgrims, which in turn affected the last operation negatively. “The problem caused by late payment will be addressed in the 2018 hajj exercise.
A deadline will be issued this time but we are waiting for NAHCON to fix hajj fare. Lagos State began preparation for hajj 2018 way back in Saudi Arabia”, he declared.
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