On the 8th of December 2021, the Saudi Arabian General Authority for Civil Aviation, GACA, announced suspension of flights from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia for reasons not actually mentioned in the circular, but generally believed to be in relation to manifestation of Covid-19 omicron variant in Nigeria.

National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), as an organization charged with responsibility of facilitating Hajj and Umrah journeys from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia, immediately engaged networking strategies with sister agencies for the purpose of convincing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to end Nigeria’s flight suspension into its territory.

In accordance with the strategy, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, the NAHCON Chairman paid a follow-up visit to the Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada in his office, yesterday 17th January 2022. The meeting was to consolidate on the initiatives already deployed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs towards ending the impasse.

NAHCON Chairman commended the Ministry for its consistent push for an inroad into the matter considering that many Muslims have paid for the ongoing Umrah pilgrimage and traditionally, the numbers rise during Ramadan lesser Hajj. The Chairman expressed hope that the suspension would be lifted in time to enable Nigerians participate in the 2022 Hajj if it would be open for foreign pilgrims.

Furthermore, Alhaji Kunle Hassan lauded the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 towards curtailing spread of the virus, which has led to the conviction of other countries that had hitherto banned Nigeria and some Southern African countries for similar reasons to rescind their decision.

In his reaction, Amb. Dada disclosed optimism on the matter hopeful that a positive response would soon emanate from Saudi Arabia.

Fatima Sanda Usara,
Head Pubic Affairs,