Yetunde Oladejo, Osogbo
Governor Rauf Aregbesola, has charged Osun state pilgrims to intercede for Nigeria and the state, in particular, for rapid economic recovery and political peace while on pilgrimage to Mecca.
Aregbesola, who gave the charge on Wednesday, during the farewell ceremony for the 2016 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia urged them to take greater advantage of this year’s pilgrimage to pray God for total liberation and breakthrough of Nigeria’s economy.
He said that the time has come for all to rise to the occasion of rescuing the nation from her present socioeconomic, political and religious unrest, saying no efforts must be spared by all the intending pilgrims to seek the face of Allah for absolute deliverance.
Some of the challenges facing the country according to Aregbesola expressed hope that the issue of inability of some states to pay workers’ salaries shall be a thing of the past, if the intending pilgrims can devote time to pray God for swift economic improvement of the country.
His words: “What Nigeria needs at the moment is fervent prayer especially as the nation is being faced with myriads of shortcomings.
“No effort must be spared at achieving this feat. We must all strive to ensuring peaceful co-existence and corporate continuity of Nigeria as a constitutionally constituted entity.
“On this note, the intending pilgrims must use the advantage of this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to pray for total liberation and breakthrough as the country is ravaged with socioeconomic, political and religious anomalies.”
Aregbesola commended this year intending pilgrims for their devotion and for striving hard towards fulfilling of the fifth pillar of Islam despite the present economic hardship.
He disclosed that the economic challenges facing the three tiers of government had made it impossible for government to do as usual in sponsoring people to the Holy land, just as he assured continuity of the initiatives as soon as the economy improves.
Being the best state in Nigeria on Hajj pilgrimage, Governor Aregbesola urged the contingent to maintain the status and remain the good ambassadors of Nigeria.
He further advised them to always go with their electronic wrist-band for easy identification wherever they go in case of any distress in the Holy land.
In his remarks, the Southwest Commissioner, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON), Alhaji Fua’ad Adeyemi has commended the governor for being consistent and focused towards the welfare of the masses especially the annual intending pilgrims.
Adeyemi who described Osun as the overall well-behaved and performed state in Nigeria over the years in the history of Hajj pilgrimage in Nigeria, said the pilgrims from the state had successfully demonstrated virtues required from every pilgrim in the holy land of Makkah and Medinah.
According to him, “Osun state has proven its weights in all ramifications as the best state in Nigeria in Hajj Pilgrimage over the years as this is evident in the performance of the annual pilgrims from the state.
“By all assessments and standards, Osun state has always been coming ahead of its counterparts in terms of the required behaviours, attitude and habits being exhibited by her pilgrims.
“It is also on record that the state performed excellently well in the last pilgrimage both in physical and spiritual compositions.
“I commend Governor Aregbesola for living up to the expectations and taking the state to the greater heights in spite the current economic realities.”
Earlier, the Amir-UL–Hajj of Osun Pilgrims’ Welfare Board, Alhaji Zikrullah Olakunle Hassan, disclosed that Seven hundred and twenty-four (724) intending pilgrims are expected to perform in this year Hajj pilgrimage.
Hassan said out of 845 seats given to Osun by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON), 742 have been successfully certified by the Board to embark to Saudi Arabia for this year Hajj.
He revealed that Osun State in the Southwest Nigeria would be the first to be airlifted and first to come back from Saudi Arabia for this year Hajj pilgrimage, while it is Zamfara state in the Northern region.
He added that it is only the two states that would be first airlifted and first to arrive to Nigeria for 2016 Hajj pilgrimage.
He disclosed that out of the three categories of award dole out by National Hajj Commission for 2015 Hajj, two awards were given to the state, adding that the 6th best organized state and the 5th best in education and enlightenment in a competition among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria.
Hassan who said the Board has made provision for accommodation in Makkah which has been classified as grade A by the Hajj regulator (NAHCON), Abuja, added that the Board would give all the intending pilgrims electronic wrist-band, which has tracking device to locate pilgrims whenever in distress.