…Sign our economy is not as bad as painted -Aregbesola
The Osun Ministry of Home Affairs has recorded an over-subscription of the slots allocated to it by the National Commission on Hajj for the 2017 pilgrimage.
While the state was initially awarded 917 slots for pilgrims, the state demanded for an extra 48 slots which were also filled up by intending pilgrims from the state.
This was disclosed on Saturday by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Obawale Adebisi, while speaking at a program where Governor Rauf Aregbesola bid farewell to the pilgrims performing this year’s hajj.
The Governor said the development is a sign that the economy of Osun is not as precarious as being made to look to outsiders.
A statement from the Office of the Special Adviser, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, quoted the Commissioner for Home Affairs, as disclosing before the Governor that while all the 917 slots originally allocated to Osun was fully booked by pilgrims to Mecca, an additional request for 48 slots from the National Commission on Hajj was also fully subscribed while there are requests from several others which the state is still considering.
Pilgrims to Mecca paid a sum of N1,180,000 last year while pilgrims are paying a sum of N1,548,153.43 for the 2017 pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
A total of 724 pilgrims performed hajj last year from Osun while the year 2017 has recorded 965 pilgrims with the possibilities of other additions.
While bidding the pilgrims farewell, Governor Aregbesola, in the statement, was quoted as saying that it is instructive that the state indeed demanded for more spaces after exhausting the initial 917 slots given to it, adding that this is an indication that the state’s economy is not as precarious as some critics would want to paint it.
“I have been made to understand that some states even could not fill about one third of the slots given to them because their people have no capacity.
But in Osun, where some of our traducers would want the world to think is in such a precarious and irredeemable economic situation, our people are able to sponsor themselves for this journey at a time the government has no capacity to sponsor a single pilgrim.
“This is to confirm that our interventions in the various spheres of people’s lives have been impactful and this economic independence is a major indices.
“So, if you want to measure the results of our performance, this is one clear indication,” the Governor was quoted as saying.
Governor Aregbesola also specifically urged pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state while giving them prayer points while performing hajj rites.
He urged them to pray for peace of mind, better economic prosperity in Osun, peace in Yoruba land, Nigeria, quick recovery of President Muhammad Buhari, and above all, a place of comfort for his mother, Alhaja Saratu Asabi Aregbesola, who died last Tuesday.
Speaking earlier, the Ameer Hajj, Barrister Dhikrilah Hassan said Osun has also perfected its strategies towards making hajj comfortable, a situation he said has earned Osun commendations from the Saudi Arabian and Nigerian authorities.
He assured the governor that just as his team had done in the past, the 2017 exercise would also witness good conduct by pilgrims and that the state would maintain its place as good ambassador of Nigeria.