Pilgrims have been enjoined to seek spiritual rebirth as they embark on this years Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
The Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade made the appeal during a farewell ceremony held at the Eastern Naval Command Central Mosque, Calabar.
Governor Ayade urged the pilgrims to shun acts capable of tainting Nigeria’s image and that of the State in particular.
Ayade, who Spoke through his Special Assistant on Religious Matters, Patrick Ogar, reminded the contingents of the vital need to pray for the peace, security and progress of Cross River and Nigeria.
He said: “I urge you to put Cross River and Nigeria first in your prayers when you get to the holy land. I hope you know that you are carrying banners of the over four million people of Cross River State to Saudi Arabia, therefore, endeavour to conduct yourself in manner that would depict us a true paradise state in Nigeria.”
Avoid bad company and most importantly, avoid drugs and any items listed as contraband to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Do not help anyone you carry their luggage at the airport, because you do not know what is inside, Ayade further admonished.
The Governor also advised the pilgrims to be vigilant and adhere strictly to the tenets of the holy Quran as well as the rules and regulations prescribed by the Saudi Arabian Government in line with the Hajj.
Ayade also commended the Cross River Muslims Pilgrim Welfare Board for the meticulous arrangements made to ensure that contingents were comfortable and accounted for.
Earlier, Tanimu Hassan, the Chairman of the Cross River Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, read the rules and regulations of Hajj in Saudi Arabia to the intending pilgrims.
Hassan urged the group to ensure strict compliance always, noting every necessary arrangement has been made to guaranteed a smooth hajj exercise to and from Saudi Arabia. I urge you all to reciprocate this gesture by being good ambassadors of the Cross River at the holy land.
Similarly, Bello Audu, the Director, Islamic Affairs Unit in the Department of Religious Matters, reiterated that necessary arrangements ranging from medical care, feeding and accommodation were in place.
Before their departure to Lagos State, western Nigeria, where they would join other pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, Imam Ahmed Bassey and the Chief Imam of Eastern Naval Command Central Mosque, Uztaz Shakariyyah Muhammed offered prayers for the Government of Cross River State, Nigeria and all citizens.
The Cross River State Government sponsored thirty-four persons out of the forty-two people departing for Hajj.