Abdullahi Mohammed, the Executive Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, says 50,000 intending pilgrims for 2017 hajj have completed payment of their fares.
Mr. Mohammed said this at one-day seminar for members of the 2017 Hajj National Media Team organised by NAHCON on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that the commission had made adequate arrangement to ensure the smooth transportation of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, assuring that the upcoming hajj operation would be better than the previous one.
"From the report I got last night, 50,000 intending pilgrims have fully paid their hajj fares and more are balancing payment of their fares," Mohammed said.
The NAHCON boss advised the media to assist the commission to monitor activities of service providers to ensure that Nigeria pilgrims get the best service and have value for their money.
"I am appealing to the media to be our watchdog to ensure that pilgrims are well taken care of by the service providers, especially the caterers who will feed our pilgrims," he said.
Similarly, Mr. Mohammed emphasised on the need for synergy between States Information Officers and members of the National Media Team to ensure proper and timely information dissemination.
He also urged the media to project the image of Nigeria and Islam positively, adding that reporting hajj activities was not like other conventional issues.
According to him, hajj is an important issue of societal value, security concern and diplomatic relations.
The former executive secretary, Nigeria Press Council, NPC, Bayo Atoyebi, advised members of the Media Team to avoid relying or sourcing information on social media.
Mr. Atoyebi also urged the media to educate intending pilgrims to know and understand what was required of them to fulfil and perform acceptable hajj.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that about 95,000 pilgrims, who registered through states pilgrims' welfare boards, agencies and private tour operators, are expected to perform the 2017 hajj.
States with the highest number of registered pilgrims are Kaduna with 6,335, followed by Niger with 4, 129, Zamfara, Kano and Sokoto each with about 3,000 pilgrims.