By Sade Williams
The airlift of Muslim pilgrims commenced with the inaugural flight to Saudi Arabia from the Sultan Abubakar III airport, Sokoto.
According to Adamu Wakil, a director in the Ministry of Transport and Chairman of the Aviation monitoring committee, about 80 thousand pilgrims will be airlifted in the next 5 weeks through flight operations in 17 airports across the country.
Wakil said in a statement signed by Yakubu Dati, FAAN spokesperson, that safety and security infrastructure is being given priority in all airports to ensure seamless passenger facilitation in the exercise.
Earlier Directors from FAAN, Engr Olufemi Ogunode and Capt Henry Omeogu led various technical teams to supervise preparatiins for the exercise.
The inaugural flight was preceeded by an airport ceremony attended by the Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Governor Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alh Saad Abubakar III and other dignitaries who gave goodwill messages.
Pilgrims from Sokoto and Zamfara states were amongst those that were airlifted on the inaugural flight amidst light showers.
In his welcome remarks, the chairman of National Hajj Commission, Bar. Abdullahi Muktar Mohammed urged pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the country and shun acts that will bring dishonor to their faith and country.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is providing security and safety oversight to all airports including State owned airports participating in the airlift.