The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has expressed hope that the 2021 hajj may take place, with the recent procurement of COVID-19 vaccines by the country.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, stated this at a news conference to mark one year in office of the Fourth Board of NAHCON, held at Hajj House, on Friday in Abuja.
The NAHCON boss said that the commission was working closely with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure that all intending pilgrims were vaccinated, if the Saudi Arabian authorities made it a condition for hajj participation.
Hassan, however, stated that the Saudi Arabian authorities had, till date, not released any official statement with regards to whether this year’s hajj would take place or not.
He said that many Nigerians were in suspense over the issue of 2021 hajj, adding that Nigeria, like any other nation, was waiting for official pronouncement from the Saudi government.
“With the recent procurement of COVID-19 vaccination by the Nigerian government, there is hope for hajj 2021 to take place in full performance.
“There is a high hope for Nigeria to be among the nations that will participate in the hajj exercise.
“If we follow the recent statement from Saudi Arabia on the countries listed as having higher risk and which are banned from Umrah (lesser hajj) participation, Nigeria was not included.
“At the moment, Nigerians are among the Umrah pilgrims allowed into the kingdom. So, for whatever reason, NAHCON is making all necessary preparations towards the 2021 hajj operations,” Hassan said.
The NAHCON boss, however, advised Muslims to exercise patience and pursue their good intentions of performing this year’s hajj, saying: “intention itself, in Islam, is of spiritual value that will be rewarded even after death.”
Hassan said that the fourth board of NAHCON had, in the last one year, introduced far-reaching reforms to reposition the commission with a view to enhancing hajj operations and boosting internally-generated revenue of the organisation.
He added that the board had successfully launched Hajj Savings Scheme in Kano and Lagos states, and embarked on robust campaigns and sensitisation of Muslims for acceptability of the scheme.
“Despite all the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, we made frantic efforts to, at least, move the activities of the commission to the next level, to enhance hajj operations in the country generally,” he said.