How 2021 hajj pilgrimage ban will affect Nigeria, others – NAHCON
Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Zikrullah Hassan, has said that the ban of international pilgrims from the 2021 hajj exercise will create a backlog crisis for Nigeria in subsequent years.
Hassan spoke on Tuesday at a one-day seminar, themed “Hajj, Communications and Covid-19 Pandemic” organised for State Pilgrims Welfare Boards (SPWBs) public relations and information units by the commission in Abuja.
He noted that new applicants may have a long wait ahead before they could have a chance to perform hajj.
Saudi Arabian authorities had barred international pilgrims for 2021 Hajj, declaring that only 60,000 pilgrims, including its citizens and nationals residing in the country, would be allowed to take part in the exercise.
Hajj 2021 rites are expected to commence on Saturday, July 17, 2021 and continue till Thursday, July 22, 2021.
“We have to get use to the queuing system and Nigeria won’t be the first to practise that system. In Indonesia and Malaysia, some people do not go to hajj until after 20years after they had paid. This is due to the numbers but I don’t think Nigeria would get as worst as that.
“Indeed, we have to learn the reality that an intending pilgrim might have to wait for two years or more and this is because the number we have on ground has already gone beyond what we can expect will be our allocation year in year out”, he stated.
Hassan, while also expressing disappointment over the development, urged the Saudi Arabia government to take a clue from World football bodies on how they were able to move on with football competitions amid the pandemic.
“We must leave with the Covid-19 pandemic and saying it may go away so sudden might be wishful thinking. The world is strong enough to overcome any challenges. I am aware that in Europe there is currently the European football competition going on and luckily we can see the crowds in the stadium.
“I am not saying football is not good but from the point of view as a hajj manager, what is football compared to worshipping Allah? So it is now left for the hajj managers to take a clue from the football competition where the stadium are now 75 percent occupied.
While appealing to Muslims to embrace the Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS), Hassan noted that scheme would enable subscribers have the advantage of gaining profit as they await the pilgrimage.
The NAHCON boss added that the effect of monetary devaluation in the face of unstable Naira exchange rate to the dollar would be cushioned by the return on investment when hajj deposits are done through the scheme.
According to him, the seminar was organised to debate upon problems of communication in the changing world of the pandemic, saying the ultimate goal is to gain deeper understanding of the challenges and arrive at solutions that would be applicable on their operations.