The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has said it would collaborate with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the Federal Ministry of Health to map out strategic guidelines on COVID-19 preventive measures to safeguard Nigerian pilgrims during the 2021 hajj operation.
Public Affairs of NAHCON, Mrs Fatima Usara, in a statement enjoined all intending pilgrims and officials of State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards to continue to observe COVID-19 protocols in order to curtail the spread of the deadly pandemic. She assured Nigerian Muslims that as soon as the Saudi Arabian authority communicated new guidelines on the 2021 hajj and umrah exercise, NAHCON would take appropriate actions in the interest of intending pilgrims.
The commission urged intending pilgrims, states and other hajj and umrah licensed operators to continue with normal preparations and registration for 2021 hajj, while exercising patience until clear directives come from the Saudi Arabian authority.
According to Usara; “Even as we look forward with high hopes on the possibility of the larger Muslim community performing hajj and umrah in 2021, NAHCON will continue to await further directives from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in reverence to the kingdom’s divinely bestowed role as the custodians of the two holy mosques and its domain.
“The commission continues to commend and trust the kingdom for its courage in taking difficult decisions in the interest of world Muslims even where the unfavourable effect of such decisions is borne by the kingdom itself. NAHCON assures Nigerian Muslims that as soon as the Saudi Arabian authority communicates new guidelines on hajj and umrah, the Commission will not hesitate in taking appropriate actions in the interest of Nigerian intending pilgrims.
“NAHCON also wishes to remind all intending pilgrims for hajj that registration for the 2021 hajj will continue on the normal platform on e-hajj portals under state pilgrims’ boards/agencies/commissions, while those wishing to pay for 2022 and beyond are advised to utilize the Hajj Savings Scheme platform.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Muhammad Saleh Benten, said it was advisable for those who wish to perform umrah to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
He said all the precautionary measures and preventive protocols were being taken to stem the spread of coronavirus in coordination with the Ministry of Health, emphasising that the umrah pilgrimage is “safe”.
Benten made the remarks while speaking to Al-Arabiya channel after receiving coronavirus vaccine dose in Jeddah.
“Anyone who registers to receive coronavirus vaccine through the Sehhaty application and wants to perform umrah must take the vaccine,” he said.
Benten said all the precautionary measures and preventive protocols such as social distancing, using hand sanitizer, wearing nose masks, in addition to the age limit for the performance of the umrah rituals would be applied.