Following a threat to ban Nigerian pilgrims from performing this year’s Hajj over Lassa fever epidemic, the Federal Government has summoned Commissioners for health to a session with top officials of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
The meeting will be chaired by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha.
The Saudi Arabian government has given Nigeria about 95,000 pilgrims’ slots for 2018 made up of 80,000 regular pilgrims and 15,000 by tour operators.
But the government was jolted yesterday by alleged threats by Saudi Arabia to impose a ban on Nigerrian pilgrims over Lassa fever outbreak.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “I think Saudi Arabia has been a bit worried about the outbreak of Lassa Fever in some states in the country. Its concern was suspected that it might lead to a ban of Nigerian pilgrims from this year’s Hajj.
“Although no official diplomatic communication has been relayed to the Federal Government but Saudi Arabia has informally said it was bothered about the Lassa fever epidemic.
“To ally the fears of Saudi Arabia, the Federal Government has invited all the commissioners for health and NAHCON officials for a meeting in Abuja today.
“The session will take stock of the extent of the spread of the Lassa Fever and what has been done to curb it.
“The collation of the facts and figures at the meeting will enable Nigeria to relate with Saudi Arabia with verifiable evidence.”
A government official said: “We have not received a formal complaint from Saudi Arabia but the government is taking preemptive measures to make sure that the pilgrimage is not hampered.
“We are doing this to support NAHCON which is noted for placing premium to health safety. If you look at NAHCON service so far, it has performed creditably with emphasis on the health of pilgrims through adequate immunization. The present leadership of NAHCON is the best the nation has ever had with its scientific operation and premium on healthcare for pilgrims.”