Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Yahaya Lawal has welcomed Aliyu Bala, the Nigerian who rode a bicycle from Jos in Plateau, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

A statement from the embassy in Jeddah said that Bala had been granted all the needed consular assistance and encouragement.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Bala left Jos in February 2021 to perform the Umrah in Makkah and visit the Holy Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, arrived the Kingdom on December 8.

After meeting the Consular General, who represented the Ambassador, he proceeded to Makkah where he performed Umrah and spent a few days for worship at the Ka’abah, Islam’s holiest site.

Bala, who is the first to undertake such journey from Nigeria in modern time, is expected to continue his 450 km journey to Madinah, where the embassy has also arranged reception for him.

Since his arrival in the Kingdom, Bala has been in high spirit for surviving numerous obstacles and dangers on his perilous journey and ultimately realizing his life ambition.

He passed through Niger, Tchad and Sudan before arriving in Saudi Arabia.

Bala said he encountered many challenges during the journey, including overcoming threats from Boko Haram insurgents, kidnappers, bandits and wild animals.

He said that the Boko Haram members he encountered asked him to pray for them, while the bandits he met took away his mobile phone.

However on arrival at a small town in Sudan and narrated his ordeal with the criminals, he was assisted by the people he met, who procured a new phone for him.

He added that he slept in bushes on many occasions, and had to push the bicycle for kilometres when he had a problem with the tyres.

Bala added that he was given a hero’s welcome in all the cities and towns he passed through, as well as donations and encouragement.

The bicycle pilgrim is expected to begin his home bound journey after completing the religious rites of lesser Hajj and visit to Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Madinah.