The Lagos State Government has urged all Hajj intending pilgrims to be of good conduct as they embarked on the spiritual excercise to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Deputy Gov. of Lagos State, made the appeal
at a One-Day seminar and special prayer for year 2022 Hajj intending pilgrims, organised by the Lagos State Government Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, held on Sunday at Blue Roof, Agidingbi, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2022 Hajj will begin on June 14 and 1562 pilgrims are expected to embark on the spiritual exercise from Lagos.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief, it is also a spiritual exercise and pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able.
Hamzat charged the intending pilgrims to be Muslims by practice and of good conduct as they would be representing the country.
“Lagos state is always rated first, so l hope this year won’t be different as all logistics for the smooth process has been put in place
“As our ambassadors for the state and country, l implore you to abide by all rules and regulations and focus on the spiritual benefits you stand to gain from the pilgrimage.
“l also urge you to pray for God’s mercy, peace, unity and prosperity of the country as it is only in a peaceful atmosphere that there can be development and growth,” he said.
In his address, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, Commissioner For Home Affairs, recalled that due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Saudi Arabian authority reduced the slots allocated to international intending pilgrims of other countries to just one million out of which 43, 000 was allocated to Nigeria.
Y2022 Lagos Hajj intending pilgrims
Elegushi explained that out of the 43,000 allocated to Nigeria, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria shared 1,562 to Lagos state.
“This is grossly inadequate to cater for the over 3,000 backlog of intending pilgrims on our hand since 2020 when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic struck the whole world.
“Aside from the inadequate slots, the Kingdom also increased its Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 15 per cent and placed taxes on goods and services that were hitherto not in their tax net before.
“This, coupled with the rising exchange rate of the US dollar, affected virtually everything and eventually led to the unavoidable increment in the Hajj fare,” he said
He, therefore, congratulated all the intending pilgrims, for being counted by Allah amongst those that would perform the Hajj through Lagos state this year.
The commissioner noted that many could not make it as a result of financial incapability, adding that some who struggled to pay the increment were not accommodated because of the limited space available.
“The situation we found ourselves is a great attestation to the general belief that ‘Hajj is a call by Allah’.
“It has shown that no matter how wealthy you may be, if He does not call you, you will not answer the call.
“I, therefore, wish to appeal to all to those who could not make it this year see the situation as the wish of Allah and beyond our control.
“I pray Allah (SWT) preserve our lives beyond next year when we shall have another opportunity with sound health, prosperity and longevity,” he said.
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr Oluseyi Whenu, implored the intending pilgrims to participate fully in the spiritual exercise, so that the benefits therein could be reaped at the end of the day.
Also, the assistant Commander,
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Lagos, Aminu Shinkafi, warned the intending pilgrims against carrying of contrabands of any nature, adding that if caught, none would be spared.
“Do not take Indian hemp, cocaine, tramadol or any form of substance and don’t help anybody to carry their luggage.
“Whatever drug or medication you have, ensure that you get a prescription attached to it especially if it is for health reasons and abide by all rules and regulations,” he advised.