COVID-19: 2020 Hajj May Still Go Ahead, Says NAHCON

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By Olawale Ajimotokan

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, has given hints that the 2020 Hajj may still take place in Saudi Arabia in spite of the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

A statement issued Friday by the commission’s spokesperson, Fatima Sanda Usara, said Hassan’s optimism was hinged on the recent indicators which emanated from Ministry of Health, Saudi Arabia.

The latest indicator has projected that the Kingdom will hopefully witness a decline of the COVID-19 infection in the country from April 21, 2020 and a possible eradication of the ailment by May 2020.

Hassan said that it was for this reason that NAHCON has not stopped the preparations towards 2020 Hajj.

The Chairman noted that NAHCON management has been assessing every development as a result of the pandemic. He encouraged intending pilgrims not to feel reluctant in making the deposits for the Hajj fare.

He added that a situation may also arise where the number of the pilgrims may be reduced as a strategy of managing the COVID-19 pandemic. In the event of this, he said slots will be offered to intending pilgrims on first come first served formula

Saudi Arabia has allotted 80,000 slots to Nigeria as its pilgrims’ quota for the 2020 Hajj.

The NAHCON boss explained further that despite the optimism, the commission was also making plans for alternative plans in the event the Hajj was not holding.

He said all arrangements entered with Saudi Arabian service providers were legally backed, adding the commission is not expecting any monetary losses on its side.

Although a five per cent commitment has been made from the commission’s purse prior to Saudi Arabia’s directive to keep Hajj preparations on hold, however, this does not affect intending pilgrims nor their funds. He assured that pilgrims who made deposits will be fully repaid if Hajj 2020 was cancelled if such depositors requested for a refund.

He also suggested they may lodge the deposits with the Commission until next year’s Hajj.