Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has pledged continued support for activities of the State Christian Pilgrim Welfare Board, just as he does for their Moslem counterpart.
The governor who spoke when he received board members of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), led by its Executive Secretary, John Kennedy Opara, noted that those appointed into the SCPWB ?are are real Christians so that the Board remains focused.?
The Governor assured the NCPC boss that he would continue to give support to intending pilgrims of Edo State, that desire to go on Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He also emphasised that he would continue to provide the medical and Logistics support to the (SCPWB) to enable them achieve successful and hitch free pilgrimage operations
While thanking the NCPC team for finding time to visit the state to sensitise the people on the importance of embarking on pilgrimage to the holy land, stressed: ?Your decision to go round the country shows how much passion you have for Christians and your interest in the progress of Christian Pilgrimage in Nigeria.?
Speaking earlier, Opara stressed the need for the Edo State government to partner the NCPC to encourage intending pilgrims to embrace the self-sponsorship option.
The NCPC boss made this appeal in Benin City, when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Adams Oshiomhole as part of his sensitisation visit to the state.
?The government of Edo state needs to partner the NCPC to achieve more participation of self-sponsored pilgrims,? Opara said. The NCPC boss also appealed to the state governor ?to find it in his heart to collaborate with the church,? he said.
Opara told the governor that he was in Edo State with his board members to sensitise the people on the transformation journey of the commission, to ensure that Christians, who go on pilgrimage are morally and spiritually transformed, to positively impact their communities and the society at large.
He explained that pilgrimage should be for Christians who are spiritually rich, but materially poor, the reason he stresses, the Commission believes that pilgrimage should serve as a veritable tool for moral and spiritual transformation.
He further explained that the Commission has broken the pilgrimage into three phases: The October/December pilgrimage, Easter Pilgrimage (between March/April), and the family pilgrimage, which would commence in July and August this year.
He explained that the idea of the family Pilgrimage is to enable families to pray together in the holy Land, because he noted that ?families that pray together stay together.?
At a meeting with stakeholders in the state earlier, the Executive Secretary said the era when Christians were unable to plan for their pilgrimage was over, adding that with the commission?s streamlined calendar of activities, it is now feasible to plan their pilgrimage conveniently.
?If we educate our people, we don?t need to live outside this country, ours is to sensitise the conscience of our people to see pilgrimage as a transformation,? he added
The NCPC Boss also commended the State CPWB for the Zero abscondment recorded by Edo Pilgrims over the last five years. He equally advised that intending pilgrims of Edo State should be able to pay early enough for this year?s pilgrimage to avoid delay.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCT) would sponsor 1500 Pilgrims for the 2013 Christian Pilgrimage, Minister of State FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide has said. She disclosed this recently when the executive secretary of the NCPC paid her a visit to her office as part of sensitisation on the 2013 pilgrimage exercise.
Akinjide commended the leadership of the NCPC for their giant strides of success by expanding the scope of pilgrimage to Rome and Greece, the introduction of Easter pilgrimage March/April, and the planned family pilgrimage slated for July this year. ?These expansions demonstrate remarkable achievements,? Akinjide acknowledges.
The Minister was highly elated to learn that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be travelling with the first batch of pilgrims in this year?s pilgrimage Exercise. She assured the NCPC boss that the FCT Pilgrims Welfare Board (CPWB) would collaborate with the NCPC to ensure a hitch free exercise.
?It is a privilege to be the President?s Landlord and landlady,? Akinjide said, adding that the country is going through a trying period in our history and it is timely for the president to go on pilgrimage; as the pilgrimage exercise would be a time of spiritual refreshing for the number one citizen.
Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, John Kennedy Opara thanked the Honourable Minister of State FCT for sponsoring 968 pilgrims for the 2012 Christian Pilgrimage. He commended the FCT Minster Senator Bala Mohammed and the Minister of State for the visible developments in the Federal Capital Territory.
He added that the goal of the Commission is to take Christians on Pilgrimage for spiritual transformation, so that they would be morally and spiritually transformed, to impact positively on their families and society.