By Chimezie Godfrey
The National Orientation Agency NOA and the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) have agreed to strengthen their long-existing collaboration toward safe and hitch-free Hajj operations in the year 2021.
The Director-General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari made this known when receiving NAHCON officials led by the Chairman/CEO of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Olakunle Hassan on a courtesy visit in Abuja.
Abari said that the NOA and NAHCON were optimistic that Hajj, a major pillar of Islam, would hold in 2021, unlike the year 2020 when it couldn’t hold due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that all must be done to prevent the spread of the virus through strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols at all stages of the hajj process.
He said the NOA/NAHCON collaboration, to which NOA remains committed, is very critical to the success of Hajj operations because it sensitizes potential pilgrims in their own dialects about what to expect and how to behave during the pilgrimage.
According to him, NOA State and Local Government officials serve as credible channels of information for potential pilgrims at the community level where they speak the local dialects to create the necessary sensitization for a hitch-free pilgrimage.
Describing the Hajj sensitization program of the Agency, the DG NOA said it includes interactions with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs), women organizations, youth organizations, and community leaders as well as the provision of information materials for easy mobilization and pre-Hajj orientation.
Earlier, the Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Olakunle Hassan said the Commission was in NOA to leverage the Agency’s robust platforms to orient and sensitize the Muslim Ummah in all nooks and crannies of the country.
He said it is against the backdrop of pervasive and persistent disbelief in the existence of COVID-19 among the populace, the NAHCON Chairman said the 2021 Hajj sensitization would include persuasion of pilgrims on the reality of COVID-19, the need for precautions and testing, and the need to avail themselves for vaccination when the vaccines become available in the country.
Hassan was hopeful that the COVID-19 Vaccine will be available soon and in good time for the vaccination of the 2021 Hajj hopefuls.
He thanked the NOA for its continued support for Hajj operations and called on the Agency to intensify its sensitization in the areas of COVID-19 testing and vaccination.