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2021 Hajj: Saudi announces strict conditions, allows only 60,000 pilgrims

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Saudi Arabia has announced a number of strict conditions for the 2021 Hajj, which it says will be performed only by 60,000 Muslims globally.
The conditions, which were aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, include limiting the pilgrimage to only those within 18 and 60 years, who have not been to hospital over any ailment six months before the journey for the Hajj rites.
The Saudi health ministry said they are allowing overseas Hajj pilgrims for the annual event in July but it would be on a smaller scale compared to the pre-pandemic time.
The Saudi health ministry said 45,000 pilgrims would come from outside the country and 15,000 from inside the Kingdom.
A report from one of the multiple online reports, Siasat, gives the highlights of conditions as follows:
Key points for the Hajj 2021:
Only 60,000 Hujjaj will be scheduled to perform Hajj this year which includes local and foreign pilgrims.
Those performing Hajj must be between the age of 18-60 years of Age.
Those performing Hajj must be in a good stated of health.
Those performing Hajj must not have been in hospital for any illness within the past six months prior to travelling for Hajj. (proof Is required)
The pilgrims must have had both doses of the vaccine with a vaccination card provided by the individual countries Health Organisation / Hospital / Ministry. (proof required)
The vaccine taken must be on the approved list that is recognised by the ministry of health within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The pilgrims must quarantine for three days if they are classed as foreign pilgrims as soon as they arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The first dose of the vaccine must have been taken by the 1st Shawaal 1442. Note: This day has passed and was the day of the Eid Ul Fitr 1442.
The second dose of the vaccine must be taken by the 14th day before arriving within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The conditions of social distancing and the wearing of the mask and other precautionary measures will continue to protect pilgrims.

When a pilgrim arrives at their residence:
The pilgrims will undergo thermal screening.
The accomodation and hotels pilgrims will stay at must comply with the ministry of tourism, the ministry of Hajj, and other bodies.
There will be an implementation of precautionary measures to prevent crowding inside the rooms and hotels.
They will therefore provide catering services for every pilgrim in their room without the need to gather in dining halls and prevent open buffets.
All international pilgrims must quarantine for three days and will also conduct PCR Swabs at the place of residence.
Pilgrims will be educated that if they have symptoms, they are to go consult a doctor directly, in order to ensure their own safety and the safety of others.
The Hajj pilgrims will be dispatched in less batches compared to previous years in order to comply with social distancing. There will be meeting points for groups in all areas in fewer numbers compared to previous years.
All baggage for pilgrims must be disinfected & workers will be given the role to ensure this.
Security personnel have been assigned to organise the entry & exit of pilgirms according to the time allotted to them.
The protocol accommodation facilities

For Arafah
A bus will be specified for each group and a seat number will be assigned to each pilgrim during the entire trip, with follow-up on the implementation of precautionary measures when getting on and off the buses.
Pilgrims will not be allowed to stand during the journey.
Families will be allowed to sit together.
If a pilgrim has COVID-19 the bus will be disinfected and other procedures will follow.
The number of passengers will not exceed 50% of the total capacity.
In the bus, there will be an empty seat between each passenger.
Passengers must carry their luggage.
Food should only be prepackaged.
Preventing of gatherings and maintain social distancing.
The number of pilgrims will not exceed 50 per 50 square metres of the area of the tents.
Pilgrims will be provided with stones in sterilised bags packed by the organizer.
The pilgrims departure to and from the Jamarat facility must be scheduled so that the number does not exceed 50 pilgrims for each floor of the Jamarat facility.

For Al Haram mosque in Mecca
Pilgrims must have a permit to perform the Hajj from the electronic Hajj portal or via an electronic application.
Pilgrims must ensure social distancing and prevent over crowding issues.
Thermal imaging cameras are in place to measure the temperature at the entrances.
In the event of high temperatures or suspicions, the pilgrim will be prevented from entering and referred to the specialists at the Ministry of Health.
Carpets at Masjid Al Haram will be removed.
Stickers are marked on floors allowing 2 metres Social Distancing between pilgirms.
Food will be prevented from being allowed in the Mosque.
Educational lessons will continue to be suspended inside the Mosque.
Educational material however will be distributed.
Cleaning and disinfecting will take place around the clock.
Earlier this week, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow pilgrims from outside the country to perform Hajj this year.
Last week, Saudi Arabia warned citizens against traveling to 13 countries including India without permission due to security concerns and instability in several countries, while the COVID-19 pandemic continued and new strains of the virus spread to some other countries.
Earlier in March, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia health ministry said that will only allow people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the Hajj this year.

 

The Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi has advised, that the only solution to the problems of Nigeria’s transportation challenges is to adopt a multi-modal system, stressing that the pressure on the road system is too high.
Dr Boboye also decried the non-implementation of the National Transport Policy (NTP), 29 years after it was drafted.
Speaking on the topic: “Improving Nigeria Transportation Systems: The Way Forward” at the 8th Nigeria Annual Transport Lecture held recently at Sheraton Hotel, Dr Oyeyemi said there is need for improvement of the inter-modal transport system.
Boboye warned that the road system is not only dominant but its preference, totalling 95 per cent of all modes, has serious road safety concerns in the form of traffic crashes and infrastructure decays
Noting that road crashes have increased, the Corps Marshal said “the pressure is too much on the road. Fatality has been on the high. We used to have an average of 100 lives lost on the roads weekly. Speed is a major aspect we need to address”.
The FRSC boss maintained that utilising other modes of transport, including air, water, road, pipeline and rail as an alternative will decongesting traffic gridlocks in coastal cities in the country, and also has the potential to boost the economy from travel tourism perspective.
According to him, there has not been a balanced development of the country’s transportation system, pointing out that increase in road construction activities and some developmental challenges being experienced by the other sectors of transportation, the movement of people, goods and services is dominated by road transport.
Proffering solutions for the intermodal transport system to work, Boboye said “government should expand and upgrade existing air travel infrastructures so as to boost confidence in the industry with respect to air safety; encourage more investments to bring about healthy competition such that more people can opt for the mode as against the road especially for long-distance travel. This will largely reduce ‘fatigue’ induced and tyre related crashes on the road”.
According to him, greater investments as a follow up of the MoU between NIWA, NEXIM and Sealink Promotional Co. Ltd should be activated.
He also canvassed for the dredging of identified potential waterways in the country to improve safety and enhance navigation amongst others.
Commending the efforts of the present government, Boboye said “government should continue to improve on existing security framework to enhance investors and customers confidence in all modes of transportation in the country. The current state of transportation in the country is an improvement on what it used to be”.

FAAC disbursement drops N63bn to N616bn in May
The three tiers of government shared a total of N616.886 billion received from the federation accounts allocation committee (FAAC).
This is the revenue from April as allocation for May.
Henshaw Ogubike, director of information, press and public relations, at the office of accountant general of the federation (OAGF), disclosed this in a statement on Friday.
Of the total revenue derived in April, the federal government, in May, received N244.011 billion, while the state and local government councils got N193.432 billion and N143.298 billion, respectively.
This figure shows a decline of N63.45 billion when compared to FAAC disbursements for revenue accrued in March.
With increased revenue in March, the sum of N680.33 billion was shared among the three tiers of government in April.
In March, gross statutory revenue was N466.687 billion, value added tax revenue was N181.712 billion and exchange gain was N2.931 billion.
But according to the statement, gross statutory revenue fell to N429.733 billion in April.
Revenue from the value added tax also reduced to N164.340 billion while revenue from the exchange gain dipped to N2.250 billion.
The OAGF said the excess bank charges recovered was N0.563 billion, while revenue from non-oil was N20 billion.
For non-oil revenue, the federal government received N10.536 billion, the state government got N5.344 billion and the local governments was allocated N4.120 billion.

“In April 2021, the sum of N79.468 billion was the total deductions for cost of collection, statutory transfers and refunds,” the statement reads.
“The balance in the Excess Crude Account was $72.413 million.”
It noted that oil-producing states received the sum of N36.145 billion as 13 percent derivation revenue.
The statement also noted that from the gross statutory revenue, N207.477 billion was given to the federal government, the state governments received N105.235 billion while the local government councils received N81.132 billion.
“The Federal Government received N24.651 billion from the gross Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N164.340 billion, the state governments received N82.171billion and local government councils received N57.519 billion,” it reads.
The statement added that the federal government received N1.051 billion, the state governments receive N0.533 billion, the local government councils received N0.411 billion and N0.255 billion was given to the relevant states as 13 percent derivation revenue from the exchange gain revenue.
It added that petroleum profit tax and excise duty recorded a significant increase, while companies income tax, oil and gas royalties, VAT and import duty suffered a declin

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Buhari set to address UN General Assembly

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President Muhammadu Buhari is set to address 76th Session of the high-level General Debate of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on  Friday, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

The Nigerian leader would deliver his address around 9am (around 2pm Nigerian time) to other world leaders during the morning session.

Buhari will speak to the theme of the Assembly and other global issues.

The theme for the 76th session is, “Building Resilience Through Hope – To Recover from COVID-19, Rebuild Sustainably, Respond to the Needs of the Planet, Respect the Rights of People and Revitalise the United Nation’’.

Friday’s session will also include speeches by leaders from The Gambia, South Sudan, Republic of Benin, Senegal and Germany, among others.

The Nigerian leader has participated in some bilateral meetings with a number of leaders of other countries’ delegations and heads of International Development organisations.

Buhari has met with the President of Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye, held meeting with Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and also attended the UN Food Systems Summit.

The Nigerian leaders also held a bilateral meeting with Her Majesty, Maxima Zorreguieta, Queen of The Netherlands and participated at hybrid High-Level event, tagged “Transformative Actions for Nature and People”.

In addition, the President delegation had participated in other high-level meetings such as the Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on Reparations, Racial Justice and Equality for People of African Descent.

The delegation is also attended High Level Plenary Meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, among others. (NAN)

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VAT claim is about fiscal federalism- Lagos State

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Lagos State government on Thursday said it has a strong case in its demand to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).

It said its claims were also about fiscal federalism.

The state said VAT collection would neither impoverish other states nor would the process be cumbersome.

Commissioner for Information Strategy Gbenga Omotoso, who spoke on ‘Your View’ on TVC, said: “Lagos has a solid case in the ongoing legal dispute as the crux of the disagreement is about equity, justice and fairness.

“Whichever way it goes, it will also enrich our jurisprudence and enhance the way we see and relate to the law.

“No matter what, Lagos will always stand for true fiscal federalism.”

The commissioner noted that the volume of air, sea and road transport activities in Lagos puts pressure on the state’s infrastructure.

He added that additional revenue from VAT would facilitate infrastructure development for faster movement of goods and services, as well as economic growth for the benefit of Lagos and other states since prices will fall.

On the demand for a special status for Lagos, Omotoso described Lagos as a ‘giant that carries most of the burden of Nigeria on its shoulders and the engine-room of the nation’s financial and business activities.

“Lagos must be empowered to play this role to the benefit of Nigerians”, he insisted.

Omotoso noted that other states can partner with Lagos to generate more revenue or resources by taking advantage of its huge population and massive market to sell their agricultural produce and other products, while profits realised therefrom would be repatriated to create more wealth for farmers and other producers in such states.

According to him, Lagos almost became an orphan following the movement of the Federal Capital Territory to Abuja in 1991, resulting in modest support from the Federal Government.

He was confident there would be resources for more infrastructure and facilities in transportation, health, education, e.t.c, that will benefit Lagosians and others who troop in every day if the state is allowed to collect VAT.

Omotoso added that the state will sensitise residents concerning its position on the debate.

Also yesterday, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel said states were entitled to collect VAT.

He was a guest on Arise TV News ‘Morning Show’ aired to mark the state’s 34th anniversary.

According to him, it was wrong for the Federal Government to collect and share revenue from VAT because it is generated from businesses and activities in states.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday asked all taxpayers to continue remitting VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

She said in an advertorial: “The ruling of the Court of Appeal employs all taxpayers in all the states to continue to collect VAT on behalf of the government in compliance with the VAT Act.”

But, Emmanuel said despite the huge oil and gas investments in the state, Akwa Ibom receives a paltry N2 billion from VAT.

He backed his Rivers and Lagos states counterparts, Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, both of whom have signed their VAT bills.

Emmanuel said: “If my brother state has gone to court, it is the same principle that we stand on. I think we are all in the same bucket, the same basket.

“All the 36 states do not need to join at the same time. Today my brother in Rivers State has gone far enough.

“I think the case has gone to the Appeal Court and there is also a stay of execution.

“Let me allow the rule of law. But for states saying they do not need VAT, maybe they do not know the hidden treasure in VAT.

“If today I sell a house in Uyo, or any other person sells a property, the value is enhanced because of the good roads, electricity, security and water I have created, and the value I have added to the property. Why should the VAT on the property not come to me 100 per cent?

“Just look at the money I have spent on capital projects in the first quarter put at N143 billion, if you take 7.5 per cent of that, why should all not come to me?”

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No going back on mega protest at UN Headquarters – Yoruba Nation, others

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Self-determination agitators operating on the platform of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) have vowed to go ahead with the grand finale of its one-million-man freedom march at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United States on Friday.

The grand finale of the march coincides with the ongoing UN Assembly where President, Muhammadu Buhari, is expected to address the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Akintoye in a statement, on Thursday, made available to The Nation by NINAS Director of Communications, Maxwell Adeleye, accused the Federal Government of sponsoring a counter-protest at the United Nations Headquarters tomorrow.

He alleged that the Nigerian Government has started hiring black foreigners living in the United States of America with $500 per head to stage a Pro-Buhari and One Nigeria March opposite the United Nations Headquarters.

Akintoye vowed that the will of the people would prevail no matter how the Federal Government tries to scuttle the NINAS Grand Finale March.

Apart from Akintoye, the Secretary-General, Tony Nnadi, who represents the Lower Niger Congress and Prof. Yusuf Turaki, who represent the Middle-Belt Movement at NINAS have also jointly called on the UN to take urgent step to prevent Nigeria from descending into chaos.

NINAS, which described the 1999 Constitution as a fraud against the people of South and Middle-Belt, having been “enacted without the consent of the people,” demanded the conduct of a regional referendum so that the indigenous people can decide on their nationhood, among others.

All the indigenous people of the South and Middle-Belt in the United States and Canada have been urged to troop out in large number tomorrow.

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