Muslim communities across the country are calling on and urging President Nana Akufo-Addo to, as matter of urgency, reconstitute the Ghana Hajj Board for a smooth airlifting of Ghanaian Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia this year.
There is currently no board for the Pilgrims Affairs Office of Ghana under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration after the tenure of office of the Sheik I.C Quaye-led board ended in February this year.
As a result, preparations for this year’s Hajj has stalled although many Hajj organisations across the world are actively preparing for 2022 Hajj.
Few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia’s authorities eased a big chunk of the Covid-19 restrictions at the two Holy sites – Masjid Haram and Masjid Nabawi in Mecca and Medina respectively – to allow full capacity during prayers.
They as well eased restrictions in the cities in Saudi Arabia for the economy to bounce back.
This gives an indication of a full-capacity Hajj season in 2022 for all pilgrims across the world after the cancellations in 2020 and 2021.
However, Ghana is yet to begin with its processes ahead of the next Hajj.
Many have attributed this to the absence of a board.
As a result, Ghanaian Mulsims are worried about the development.
The latest outburst came following a press released issued by the outgoing Hajj Board Chairman, Shiekh I.C Quaye, on behalf of the board for Muslims and prospective pilgrims to get Covid-19 vaccinations at the Jummah Mosques across the country on Friday, October 22 and Friday, October 29.
Many felt the release rather came in late.
“We are very disappointed in the way Hajj operations are being handled in this Covid era though Ghana and the rest of the world had not embarked on the Hajj for two years now,” a concerned prospective pilgrim expressed frustrations.
“Just look at our brothers from Nigeria, they are seriously mobilising and organizing their Hajj and Umrah irrespective of the ban on international Hajj and we are yet to vaccinate our pilgrims? And instead of us doing it well, this is what we are doing,” he told our reporter.
Other Muslims and Muslim scholars equally expressed their worries and dissatisfaction on the manner Hajj issues are being handled in the country and thus blamed this on the absence of a board to steer the affairs of the Pilgrims Affairs Office of Ghana for the next four years.
They are, therefore, calling on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to reconstitute a board for the effective running of the Office of Ghana.
Muslims who received the news of the vaccination beforehand were disappointed as there were no Covid-19 vaccination exercises at the various Jummah mosques despite the late press release from Sheikh I.C Quaye.
When contacted, the Ghana Health Service said they are not aware of the exercise and they have not received any official notice for that exercise.
Moreover, there are no vaccines available for vaccination in the regions as the Service is rather expecting more in November and December for first and second doses respectively.
Prospective pilgrims said they have been vaccinated during the mass vaccination exercise so there was no need for the press release.
“Almost all my clients have been vaccinated through the Ghana Health Service’s Covid-19 vaccination exercise. I took that opportunity to mobilise them for the vaccination awaiting next year’s Hajj season because most of them are worried of not being part of the next Hajj after paying their Hajj fares because the vaccination is a key requirement for Hajj under pandemic,” a Hajj agent disclosed.
Hajj agents across the country have also mobilised their clients to be vaccinated even before the communication from Sheikh I.C Quaye.