President Mohammadu Buhari on Sunday inaugurated Muslim pilgrims flight to Saudi Arabia for 2015.
Buhari, represented by Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, performed the ceremony at the Kaduna International Airport, Kaduna.
“Our country is going through very challenging times and we will need all the prayers we can have and the best place to do that for the Muslim Umma is in Saudi Arabia,’’ the President said.
Buhari congratulated Kaduna state for being chosen for the inaugural flight and expressed hope that the 2015 hajj would be the best in the history of Nigeria.
He said the Federal Government was committed to reducing the cost of pilgrimage and involvement of government in the exercise.
“I agree with the views of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs that hajj, if properly organized, should add value to the Nigerian economy rather than take from it.
“Accordingly, I approve the constitution of a very thorough and effective Central Coordinating Team of Muslim Leaders to oversee the hajj this year,’’ he said.
Buhari said the leader of the hajj coordinating team is the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.
Other members include the Emir of Songa, Dr Haliru Yahaya, Dr Ibrahim Datti Ahmed, and Alhaju Zakariya’u Babalola.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaju Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar called on the pilgrims to abide by the rules and regulations in the holy land and warned that whoever violated them would be punished.
“This is the inaugural flight of pilgrims from Kaduna state and I urge state governments to continue to give maximum support and assistance to all the pilgrims from their states.
“Pilgrims must be God-fearing and do everything because of God as we pray for your safe trip to Saudi Arabia and return to Nigeria,” Abubakar said.
The National Amirul Hajj and Emir of Kano, Alh Mohammed Sanusi II, called on pilgrims to abide by the rules and obligations of hajj.
Sanusi urged them to pray for peace and development of Nigeria and follow the teaching of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) while in the Holy Land.