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The Board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission led by its Chairman, The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh submitted the report

The Board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission led by its Chairman, The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh submitted the report of the 2014 Christian Pilgrimage exercise to Israel, Rome and Greece to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim Pius in Abuja.

The Chairman of NCPC told the SGF that the Commission made remarkable progress in the 2014 Christian pilgrimage exercise among which was the historic presidential pilgrimage to Israel by the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who visited very important Holy Sites.

He equally intimated the SGF that the Commission was able to achieve 50% increase of self sponsorship of pilgrims in the just concluded pilgrimage exercise.

His Grace also stated that the Commission effectively visited about 27 states last year on sensitization visit to the Governors and Stakeholders which helped to secure the number of pilgrims last year.

He further affirmed that the Commission was also able to reconnect with the European Countries through the Italian Embassy who facilitated the procurement of Schegen visa for Pilgrims who visited Rome last year.

His Grace also enumerated some of the challenges which the Commission faced during the last pilgrimage exercise, such as the inability of the Commission to activate the Bilateral Air Service Agreement with the State of Israel, delayed payments by some states and the non yielding attitude of about 6 states in the North to sponsor Christians to the Holy Land.

He informed the SGF that the Commission is making efforts to build a Christian House in Israel which would accommodate Nigerian Christians wherever they are in Israel.

He also reported that 23 states of the Federation participated out of 36 states including FCT took part in the 2014 Christian Pilgrimage Exercise.

His Grace also hinted that the Commission would introduce Youth Pilgrimage to Israel this year to enable the youth gain from the spiritual benefits of the exercise alongside leadership empowerment programme that would go with it.

The NCPC Chairman also affirmed the readiness of the Commission to partner with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission for pilgrimage drive in order to help the Commission to raise fund for self sustenance and to encourage people to win and go for pilgrimage.

In his response, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim Pius commended the NCPC Board for the height Christian Pilgrimage has attained in Nigeria. His words: “I can proudly say that pilgrimage in Nigeria has attain a dimension that nobody has ever contemplated”.

He explained that pilgrimage is not leisure or sightseeing but a spiritual exercise. He added that with the Presidential Pilgrimage in place, the diplomatic content has been added.

He commended the Commission for expanding the scope of pilgrimage exercise, especially the planned introduction of the Youth pilgrimage this year.

He was enthused to note that the era of abscondment and mortality rate of pilgrims was over. He promised to work closely with the Commission to activate BASA initiative so that Nigerian Pilgrims would benefit immensely from the signing of the agreement.

He expressed his support for the building of Christian House in Israel, describing “it as laudable and timely. Sen. Pius Anyim Pius also accepted to support NCPC in its partnership drive with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), especially now that the Government plans to discontinue the sponsorship of pilgrims.

He thanked the Chairman and members of the Board for their selfless service to their fatherland.

The chairman of NCPC was accompanied to the SGF Office by the Executive Secretary of the NCPC, John Kennedy Opara, six Federal Commissioners and three Ex-Officio members of the Board.

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Saturday, 14 December 2019

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