Sudan crisis: Lawmakers summon Onyeama, Dabiri, NEMA officials
• Blame inter-agency rivalry for evacuation challenges
• ‘Nigerian pilgrims may not pay additional Hajj fare’
House of Representatives, yesterday, summoned Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri.
The lawmakers also invited officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The summon came on the heels of hiccups during the evacuation of Nigerians stranded in crisis-ridden Sudan.
House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, issued the invite at the resumption of plenary, through Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Buba Yakub.
Gbajabiamila, who noted that the evacuation is experiencing challenges due to inter-agency rivalry, said: “The House is aware of ongoing difficulties with the evacuation efforts and the Federal Government’s response to the developments in the Republic of Sudan.
“We are also mindful that some of these difficulties flow from inter-agency disagreements arising from overlapping mandates and absence of established operational guidelines for such circumstances.”
MEANWHILE, Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board has allayed concerns over additional 2023 Hajj fares, on account of the Sudan crisis. Stakeholders in the Hajj industry had expressed worry over total shutdown of the Sudanese airspace and its possible economic impact on air travel from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.
Nigerian pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia through Sudan make the journey in less than five hours. Closure of the airspace, however, will force Hajj air carriers to transit via alternative routes that would take more than seven hours.
Addressing journalists in Kano, yesterday, on level of preparedness for the pilgrimage, Executive Secretary, Mohammad Abba Danbatta, revealed that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) is making all efforts to mitigate impact of the Sudanese conflict on Nigerian pilgrims.
Also, Danbatta disclosed that 4,900 intending pilgrims from Kano have already perfected payment. He said the state government has settled for Max Air to convey the prospective pilgrims to the Holy Land, having factored technical capacity and wide-body aircraft that could move passengers in few batches.
He said: “We are 99.9 per cent ready for the 2023 Hajj exercise, in terms of preparedness and provisions, both in Nigeria and in the Holy Land. We have perfected plans on accommodation, feeding and transportation of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.
“Already, Kano has a 5,917-seat allocation from NAHCON. We have requested and secured additional 17 seats. For now, 4,900 persons have completed payment plans and are ready for the journey. About 1,020 are still pending. They have up till Friday, this week, to complete their payment.