A total of 410 pilgrims returned home on Saturday evening after successfully performing the fifth pillar of Islam Hajj, Saudi Arabia.
Amongst the first batch of returnees, includes the Speaker of the National Assembly Alhaji Abdouli Bojang, who is also among the 75 pilgrims sponsored by the President of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh, Babili Mansa.
The pilgrims were received on arrival at the Banjul International Airport by officials of The Gambia International Airlines (GIA), friends and families as well as the National Mobiliser General of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) Yankuba Colley.
Speaking to the Daily Observer at the 2016 Hajj Terminal on arrival, Speaker Bojang stated that going in peace and coming back in peace means a great thing for this country and her people.
“Our principal wishes were to appeal to Allah [SWT] to forgive us our sins and to bless The Gambia abundantly and the general Muslim Ummah; we thank God that nothing harmed any individual during the Hajj,” he added, while thanking Professor Jammeh for given him the opportunity to perform the fifth pillar of Islam.
The President of The Gambia Supreme Islamic Council (GSIC) Alhaji Muhammed Lamin Touray described the 2016 Hajj as very successful compared to previous years. He thanked the members of the Hajj Commission for the efforts they played in making this year’s event a success.
Alhaji Abubacarr Darbo, a Hajj Commissioner noted that this year’s Hajj was one of the most successful. He said the officials have done very well by making sure that everything was put in place before their departure, noting that upon arrival in Saudi, they made sure that everything that was needed in terms of logistics, accommodation and food was taken care of.
“Every pilgrim can attest that we had the best facilities in the history of Hajj in this country; the accommodations were closer to the Masjidul Haram in Medina, and in Mecca we got to the very classical building which had never been occupied before; all these were made possible through the efforts of the Hajj Commission and GIA under the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
He thanked the President for his unflinching support, noting that apart from sponsoring the Hajj for more than 70 people, he also provided food when they were in Mina and during the day of Arafat.
The Acting Managing Director of GIA, Lamin Cham stated that as a company, they are very grateful to President Jammeh for his continues support and guidance, noting that without which they would not have registered these successes.
He also thanked the Gambian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Omar Gibril Sallah for his efforts. Cham further disclosed that on Sunday, (yesterday) another batch of 410 pilgrims would arrive home with the remainder expected in town today (Monday).
Alhaji Basiru Gassama of Bakau, member of the Presidential Hajj package, expressed his heartfelt congratulations to the organisers and thanked the President for given him the opportunity to perform the Hajj. He described President Jammeh as a man who is always propagating Islam.
The Gambia Radio and Television Services‘Alhaji Famara Kanyi, who reported on the Hajj for the state broadcaster, said this year’s Hajj went well because of the high level of organisation. “I thanked Allah for given me the opportunity to be part of the 2016 Hajj; indeed it was a very successful one and one can say is the best organised,“ he stated.
by Alhagie Babou Jallow