The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has stated that it cannot make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for 2021 intending pilgrims.
This was contained in a statement issued by the NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, during an interactive session to mark the Fourth Board of NAHCON’s one year in office in Abuja on Saturday, March 6.
He, however, said NAHCON was working with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure all intending pilgrims were vaccinated if the Saudi Arabian authorities made it a condition for participation.
He expressed hope 2021 hajj would take place with the recent procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
“If the Saudi government insists that vaccine is a condition for participation and any prospective pilgrim says he or she will not take the vaccine, we will simply ask the person to go back and re-apply when the Saudi government changes its decision. But, we cannot compel anybody to take the vaccine,” he said.
Furthermore, Hassan stated that many Nigerians were already keying into the hajj savings scheme; adding that with the savings scheme, 60 per cent of hajj operations’ challenges would be solved.
He noted the Commission was prioritising training its staff to boost their productivity; and also launched a digital transformation master plan, which would increase efficiency in service delivery to Nigerian pilgrims.
Meanwhile, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has criticised the 36 governors in Nigeria; saying they are too timid to demand state autonomy and push for the country’s restructuring.
He stated this on Saturday, March 6, at the virtual 2021 Obafemi Awolowo Lecture with the theme, ‘Whither Nigeria?’
Soyinka said, “There is a consensus that this country whether in terms of governance; economic relations; security; educational policy; cultural policy, etc, that the country requires restructuring. Even the word restructuring has been restructured in many directions; in cogent expression which will mean the same thing for everybody.
“For me, for instance, I emphasised decentralisation, reconfiguration…We all know what we have now is not working; it’s obvious and we can’t continue along the same line and say that it will work, it is a sign of madness.
“I want to make a plea to all governors, stop being so timid. Push this federal envelope as far as it can go; even while we undertake the technical aspect of restructuring; whether in terms of dialogue, evolving the constitution, or whatever, something has to go on, after all, we’ve had so many of these confabs.”