The first batch of would- be- pilgrims for the 2018 Hajj Pilgrimage were yesterday airlifted from the Tamale Airport to Jeddah. In all, about 601 prospective pilgrims were airlifted in two separate airlines.
A team of government officials comprising the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, Chairman of the Hajj Board, Sheik I.C Quaye, the Director of Communication at Hajj Board, Sadik Abubakar, the Northern Regional Minister and his deputy and some members of the Hajj board were at the airport to bid farewell to the would-be-pilgrims.
At a pre-departure briefing, the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, commended the Hajj board for their excellent organization. He advised the prospective pilgrims to exhibit good behaviors by complying with the rules, regulations and engagements of the host nation..
Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca that Muslims are expected to make at least once in their lifetime.
Each year, millions of Muslims descend on Mecca for the Hajj to give thanks to Allah and stand before the Kaaba at Islam’s most sacred Mosque. The ancient ritual is the largest annual religious gathering of people in the world.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, making it one of the most important traditions in the Muslim faith. All Muslims are required to take part in the Hajj at least once, provided they are physically and financially able to make the journey.
The Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, after interacting with the prospective pilgrims on board the aircraft, said government, was cautious and sensitive about the image of Ghana outside and therefore implored pilgrims to live up to expectations.
He asked them to live by the tenants of the host nation and make the country proud.
The Chairman of the Hajj board, Sheik I.C Quaye, recited some prayers with the would-be-pilgrims for good will and tidings.
He said the president, Nana Akufo-Addo, recognizes the importance of Hajj to the Muslim community had paid off all outstanding debt of about thirty-one million cedis owed by the Hajj board last year.
Sheik Quaye stressed that if those monies were not paid, there would not have been Hajj last year and this year. He also mentioned that government has transferred some monies to Mecca to take care of all debts and expenses.
Sheik Quaye added that government was footing the feeding expenses of all the would-be- pilgrims in Mecca for 28 days. This, move he explained, was an indication that government had the welfare of his people at heart.
The Regional Minister, Salifu Sa-eed,commended government and the Hajj board for choosing the Tamale Airport as one of the bases for this year’s Hajj.
He appealed to government and the Hajj Board to look into the region’s resiliency in responding to the Hajj Pilgrimage and make all flights take off from the Tamale Airport.
Mr. Sa-eed noted that the appeal, if given consideration, will go a long way to boost the local economy of the area since key stakeholders involved in the preparative work and all prospective pilgrims will converge on the Tamale Hajj Village for business.
He advised the pilgrims to do due diligence to the hajj activities and urged them to be at peace with themselves and other pilgrims.
The Director of Communication, Hajj Board, Sadik Abubakar, said each pilgrims will go with their agent and a medical team and will be housed in the same hotel in Mecca. He said about 2,600 would-be-pilgrims are expected to be airlifted to Jeddah by Thursday, August 9, 2018.
Story by Joyce Kankam Kolamong