NIGERIAN pilgrims from Osun State participating in this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia staged a protest over the weekend, expressing their dissatisfaction with the quality of meals provided by the state’s organisers.
A video capturing the incident has gone viral, showing the pilgrims rejecting dinner delivered to their hotel in Madinah and vocally criticising the inadequate provisions.
According to reports, the pilgrims had paid approximately N3 million for the Hajj pilgrimage, raising expectations for satisfactory services and facilities.
In the video, the pilgrims, adorned in white Jellabiya, can be heard speaking in Yoruba as they dumped their food on the doorstep of Maruf Isola, the Amir-ul-Hajj, leader of the state government delegation to the pilgrimage, at the Makkah hotel where they were accommodated.
One of the pilgrims lamented, “For the past four days, they have been feeding us with four slices of bread and two eggs. But now we can no longer endure because the officials and board members are being fed with special food. It is from the money that we paid that they are being taken care of. That’s why we are protesting.”
Responding to the allegations, the Osun State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, represented by the Board’s Administrative Secretary Bolaji Sanni, on behalf of the Amir-ul-Hajj, Ishola, refuted claims of poor feeding and described them as baseless and unfounded.
In a statement, Sanni said the reports were politically motivated, aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the Board.
“The alleged poor food being purportedly served to the pilgrims was a political mischief intentionally fabricated by fifth columnists to willfully disparage and malign the good reputation of the Board.
“The board will not leave any stone unturned to correct such erroneous impressions being created in the minds of the innocent public,” the statement said.
However, the incident has raised concerns about the overall welfare and care provided to Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.
On Saturday, the head of the Nigerian medical team for the Hajj pilgrimage, Usman Galadima, announced that out of 95,000 Nigerian pilgrims airlifted for the 2023 Hajj exercise, six had passed away.
Incidentally, two of the deceased were from Osun State. The causes of death were cited as cardiac arrest and undisclosed illnesses.
Galadima also provided an update on the medical conditions of the Nigerian pilgrims, stating that 30 individuals were being treated for mental health challenges but were now in stable condition.
Additionally, seven pregnancies were recorded among the pilgrims, with two from Sokoto State and one each from Adamawa, Kwara, Yobe, Plateau, and Katsina. Unfortunately, two miscarriages were also reported, and a diabetic pilgrim had to undergo a leg amputation.
It remains to be seen what steps the Nigerian government will take to address the grievances raised by the Osun State pilgrims and ensure the better well-being of the country’s pilgrims.