Strike: Nigerian Pilgrims Stranded As Plane Returns Empty To Saudi Arabia

In a dramatic turn of events, the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has severely disrupted the airlifting operations of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), leaving thousands of Nigerian pilgrims stranded.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has sounded the alarm over the crisis, emphasizing the grave impact on the pilgrims’ plans and safety.

Professor Ishaq Akintola, the Director of MURIC, issued a statement on Monday detailing the plight of the stranded pilgrims.

He revealed that an aircraft dispatched to transport the pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia was forced to return to Jeddah empty due to the strike by aviation workers.

“Thousands of Nigerian pilgrims are now in danger while the airlift operation has already been halted,” Akintola said.
“Thousands of Muslim pilgrims who have left their homes for the airports are now stranded.”

The strike has sparked significant concern among the Nigerian Muslim community, with many questioning the timing of the NLC’s decision to declare a national strike.

According to Akintola, over 60,000 Nigerian Muslims were scheduled to be airlifted for the Hajj pilgrimage, leaving their families in a state of fear and anxiety.

“Nigerian Muslims are now asking NLC why it had to declare a national strike at a time more than 60,000 Nigerians are being airlifted,” he continued.

“The families of these intending pilgrims are now in a high state of fear and anxiety.”

Akintola also criticized the NLC for the broader implications of the strike, particularly as Muslims prepare for the Id al-Kabiir festival.

He accused the NLC of intentional sabotage, questioning whether the union was unaware of the significant preparations underway for both Hajj and the festival.

“Apart from the confusion and hardship which the ongoing NLC strike constitutes to preparations being made by Muslim faithfuls for the Id al-Kabiir festival, the lives of Muslim pilgrims are now under palpable threat.

Is this not sabotage? Is this not intentional? Can a national union of NLC caliber say it is unaware of Muslim preparations for Hajj and Salah?” Akintola asked.

In his urgent plea, Akintola called on the NLC to immediately cease their strike, emphasizing that the safety and lives of thousands of Muslim pilgrims are at stake.

“This strike hits the most sensitive nerves in the anatomy of Nigerian Muslims. Call off the strike immediately or face the wrath of Nigerian Muslims nationwide,” he warned.

“This is an emergency and it has to be handled with speed. The lives of more than 60,000 Muslim pilgrims are in danger and the Federal government must move to save them.”

Akintola issued a stern warning to the NLC, setting a deadline for their response.

He urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to take decisive action if the NLC did not call off the strike by 8 am on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

“In case NLC fails to heed our appeal by 8 am tomorrow Tuesday, 4th June, 2024, we call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to declare a state of emergency.

It is already clear that recalcitrance is in the DNA of the present NLC leadership,” Akintola stated.

He concluded by criticizing the current NLC leadership for being out of touch with the general populace and characterized their demands as irrational and excessive.

He suggested that only a state of emergency could free the country from what he described as the “vice grip” of the NLC.

“NLC leaders have detached themselves from the rest of Nigerians. Their demands are irrational and superfluous.

“Nigerians no longer trust its leadership. Only a state of emergency can rescue the country from the vice grip of NLC,” Akintola said.

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