The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen.George Akume has said that pilgrimage should not be seen as a tourist event, but s spiritual exercise.
He made this assertion on Wednesday, 20th September, 2023 at the flag off of the 2023 Easter Pilgrimage completion exercise, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The SGF who was represented by Dr Maurice Mbaeri ,the Permanent Secretary, General Service Office thanked the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Rev Dr Yakubu Pam for making the inaugural flight a reality.
According to him”, today’s event gives NCPC the opportunity to carry out its primary mandate of airlifting pilgrims to the Holy land”.
He affirmed that pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise and not a tourist event.
The SGF urged the intending pilgrims to pray for Nigeria and the government so that Nigeria could take its rightful place in the comity of nations.
He urged them to shun any tendencies that would tarnish the image of the country.
His words “we expect all the pilgrims back to the country, no one should abscond, you must be good Ambassadors of your country”.
He commended the Directors of NCPC and the states Pilgrimage Leaders for their support and cooperation.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission, Rev Dr Yakubu Pam described the event as a special one for coming to fruision after few months suspension of the exercise.
He appreciated his management staff for standing firm with him while trying to navigate through the waters of the Easter pilgrimage completion exercise.
He also appreciated President Bola TInubu for his support and intervention in making the Easter pilgrimage completion exercise a reality.
In the same vein, he appreciated Senator George Akume , the SGF for all his support and effective supervisory role over the Commission.
He hinted that the Easter pilgrimage completion exercise would be made up of three batches after which the Commission would focus on the 2023 general Pilgrimage exercise scheduled for December.
He averred that the Commission under his leadership has been able to explore a new Pilgrimage destination which is Jordan which is embedded with important Biblical Holy Sites .
He urged the intending pilgrims to pray for Mr President and their states while in the Holy land. He further enjoined them to pray for Nigeria so that peace would reign in the country.
In her remarks, the Hon Minister of State for FCT, Mariya Bunkure, represented by Mr Samuel Atang, a Director in her office acknowledged the contributions of President Bola TInubu which led to the successful coordination of the Easter pilgrimage completion exercise.
The Hon Minister averred that Pilgrimage is a very important religious exercise, as it affords the pilgrims first hand opportunity of visiting those Holy Sites which they read in the Bible.
She admonished the intending pilgrims of FCT to avoid any action that would embarrass the nation while in the Holy land. In her words, ” the government of the day frowns at abscondment”. She threatened to sanction any FCT pilgrims that would flout the laid down guidelines of NCPC.
Over 300 intending pilgrims were airlifted to Israel and Jordan, which comprised FCT, Bayelsa and Imo.