Nigerian government officials responsible for assisting pilgrims for the 2016 Hajj in Saudi Arabia may be stopped from performing the rites, a government representative said Sunday.
The chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON) Abdullahi Mohammed, told journalists at the plains of Arafat in Saudi Arabia that officiating and performing hajj could be challenging.
“To officiate as well as perform hajj is difficult. We have done that in the past, and at the end of the day we all felt it in our body. Sometimes you don’t have the right state of mind to really do the needful in terms of performing your official functions,” he said.
Nigeria and other participating countries, alongside host Saudi Arabia, have implemented new policies to enhance pilgrims’ safety during the 2016 Hajj, following the death of more than 2000 people in accidents during the 2015 event.
Mr. Mohammed said NAHCON may also consider the next policy in the 2017 Hajj exercise.
“From next year, we will discuss with other stakeholders to find a way of making it as a policy in partial implementation and then gradually we will enforce it as a policy in the whole nation,” he said.
He also said even if Nigeria was not considering such a policy, the Saudi authorities will in the near future impose it.
“I am certain that even if we don’t do it as a nation, a time will come when the Saudi authorities will do it. If you are in the Kingdom for the purpose if observing Hajj, you observe it; and if you are an official who is supposed to officiate Hajj activity, they would not allow you to perform the Hajj and they would put that restriction,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed said the policy would help officials to perform optimally on their duties as it would help them monitor and assist pilgrims.
“This concept will not be restricted to only the staff of the commission or those who come under the it but will also go down to the states, because that is where the bulk of the work in terms of management of the Hajj is,” he said.
National prayer for Nigeria
Meanwhile, the Hajj commission has taken advantage of the Arafat day to organize national prayers for Nigeria and its leadership.
The prayers, which began immediately after the press conference, saw cleric offering prayers in Arabic, English, Hausa, Yoruba and Ijaw languages.
The prayers were centred around the return of full peace in the land and for God to grand president Muhammadu Buhari and all leaders at all levels the wisdom to govern well.
Prayers were also offered for the continued wellbeing of all citizens.
In a short remark, NAHCON boss said the prayer was organised because standing on the plains of Arafat is not just the pillar of Hajj, but that God grants the wishes of all pilgrims.