Nasarawa State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board (NCPWB), on Wednesday, says it has started preparation for the 2017 Christian pilgrimage to Israel.
Executive Secretary of the Board, Mr. Clement Odeh, who made this known to newsmen in Lafia, said that the early preparation was due to the positive response from ground handlers of the exercise in Israel.
He said that the handlers assured members of the board, who visited Israel recently on assessment tour of facilities that world standard facilities were in place and would be provided for the pilgrims.
Odeh expressed delight at the development, saying that issues sorted out included hotel accommodation, security, feeding, efficient transport services and accessibility to some sites which pilgrims in the past were not able to visit.
“The assessment tour was to ascertain the state of the facilities in the Holy Land and reached an agreement with the handlers that the facilities will be perfect when our pilgrims will be visiting.
“If we had not gone, anything can happen and it will amount to an embarrassment. We are happy with what we saw and heard from the handlers as they have assured us of providing world standard facilities and services to our pilgrims when they visit.
“We are thrilled and ready to kick-start our journey. They gave us concrete assurances. The assessment tour was critical in deciding how and when to prepare for the holy exercise.
“Given the positive assurances received from the handlers, the board decided to commence the process by registering intending pilgrims using 2016 financial package pending when the 2017 package is released,’’ he said.
He explained that once the 2017 financial package was released, decision would be taken on how to charge or reimburse intending pilgrims who already paid N596, 000 for the 2017 exercise.
“When we meet in Abuja, the financial package for 2017 pilgrimage will be revealed. There are some intending pilgrims that have started paying under private sponsorship but because we have not gotten the package for this year, we still charge them under last year’s package,” Odeh said.
He said that the need for early preparation was to forestall the situation whereby pilgrims in the state would travel very late for the pilgrimage.
Odeh thanked Gov. Umaru Al-Makura for his continued support toward both Christian and Muslim pilgrimages and urged political leaders, traditional rulers and other well-meaning Nigerians to sponsor people to perform the exercise.
“Government alone cannot do it. We need organisations, individuals, societies, political and religious leaders to sponsor or enlighten others on the importance of pilgrimage,” he said. (NAN)