Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed worry over the challenge of abscondment by supposed pilgrimages in the last couple of years, adding that the sad narrative is giving Nigeria a bad name abroad and makes mockery of the whole exercise.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, at a meeting with Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission and Christian Pilgrims Welfare Boards across Nigeria, further stated that early this year, this ugly development has compelled the Federal Government to deposit some money with the Israeli Authority as a guarantee against abscondment of pilgrims in that country.
He stressed that with the combined efforts of Nigerian Christian Commission (NCPC), State Leadership of Christian Welfare Board and all other stakeholders, this ugly trend must come to an end.
He reiterated government’s commitment to supporting pilgrimage with goals that will add value to peace, development and nationalism.
Mustapha, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, General Service Office (GSO) in his office, Olusegun Adekunle, quoted the Federal Government as saying that “Reports from various quarters on the activities and attitude of pilgrimage officials home and abroad have given FG a cause for concern.”
He added that “there may be challenges in generating pilgrims at various levels but a situation where leaders appear to either condone, conspire, and or cooperate with purported pilgrims to abscond in the holy land is unacceptable and government views this seriously”.
He called on the leadership of NCPC to see their roles beyond their states but rather they should see themselves a leader who is mandated to provide veritable leadership that will demonstrate exemplary qualities or character that will evolve measures that will put an end to this ugly trend.
Mustapha noted that aside performing holy pilgrimage, there are some benefits that could be achieved either individually or as a country generally, such benefits according to him include; agriculture, technology.
Infrastructure, security and the building of descent and nationalist institutions.
While answering questions from the journalists, Executive Secretary of the Commission, Rev. Uja Tor Uja, said there is no basis for Nigerians absconding from holy land if they appreciate what God has endowed this country with.
He said that Nigeria is so blessed and that it takes people of good spiritual foresight to appreciate this.
He assured that the Commission will do all what it takes within the purview of law to discourage people who have taken the advantage of pilgrimage to abscond in the holy land.