The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Rev Yakubu Pam, has announced a strategic change in pilgrimage plans due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Citing concerns for the security and welfare of pilgrims, the NCPC has decided to alter the pilgrimage destination from Jerusalem to sites in Greece and Rome.
Rev Pam addressed the media in Abuja on Wednesday, revealing that the decision was prompted by the prolonged Israel-Hamas conflict. This situation led to the suspension of the December 2023 pilgrimage to Israel. To assess the viability of the new destinations, Rev Pam personally led an NCPC research team to inspect accommodation facilities and Biblical sites in Greece and Rome.
He reiterated that the security, welfare, and overall experience of pilgrims were paramount concerns for the NCPC. The new pilgrimage sites will include locations associated with Apostle Paul, offering pilgrims a unique opportunity to connect physically with New Testament locations and engage in spiritual exercises.
The cost for the revised pilgrimage has been set at N3 million, covering essential aspects such as return flight tickets, hotel accommodation, three-course meals per day, and tours of holy sites in executive luxury buses for six nights and seven days. This cost excludes pilgrims’ travel allowances. State governments, state offices of Christian Pilgrims Welfare Boards, churches, and individuals have been informed about the new modalities, with payments expected to be completed before the end of January 2024.
In parallel news, President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of nine members to the board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission. Colonel Aloche Adole was appointed Chairman, with Dr. Stephen Adegbite as Secretary. Other appointees include Mrs. Omowumi Ogunlola, Clement Nweke, Prince Wosu, Prof. Joseph Mamman, Dr. Toma Ragnjiya, Dr. Simon Dolly, and Raphael Nwankwo representing the Christian Association of Nigeria.
President Tinubu charged the new appointees to see their roles as opportunities to serve the nation and urged them to wholly commit themselves to this important purpose.