Sen. George Akume, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, has stated that pilgrimage should not be considered a tourist attraction but rather a spiritual practice.
He stated this on September 20, 2023, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, during the flag-off of the 2023 Easter Pilgrimage completion exercise.
The Executive Secretary of NCPC, Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam, was commended by the SGF, who was represented by Dr. Maurice Mbaeri, the Permanent Secretary, General Service Office, for bringing about the inaugural flight.
He stated that “today’s occasion presents NCPC with the opportunity to fulfil its primary mandate of airlifting pilgrims to the Holy Land.”
He stated that making a pilgrimage is a spiritual activity rather than a tourist attraction.
In order for Nigeria to reclaim its proper position in the community of nations, the SGF advised the aspiring pilgrims to pray for Nigeria and the government.
He advised them to avoid behaviours that might harm the nation’s reputation.
He said, “We expect all pilgrims to return home; nobody should flee, and you must be good ambassadors for your nation.”
He expressed his gratitude for the support and collaboration shown by the NCPC Directors and the state pilgrimage leaders.
The Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission’s Executive Secretary, Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam, regarded the occasion as unique since it was the culmination of an exercise that had been suspended for a short while.
He was grateful to his management team for supporting him while he tried to steer clear of the obstacles in the Easter pilgrimage completion activity.
He also expressed his gratitude to President Bola Tinubu for his assistance and support in bringing about the Easter pilgrimage completion process.
In a same spirit, he expressed his gratitude to SGF Senator George Akume for all of his support and his efficient oversight of the Commission.
He provided a suggestion that there would be three batches for the Easter pilgrimage completion exercise, after which the Commission will concentrate on the December 2023 general pilgrimage activity.
He claimed that the Commission, under his direction, had been able to investigate Jordan, a new pilgrimage destination that is home to significant Biblical Holy Sites.
While in the Holy Land, he advised the prospective pilgrims to pray for Mr. President and their states. He also urged them to pray for Nigeria so that there will be peace there.
In her remarks, the Hon. Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Mariya Bunkure, thanked the achievements of President Bola Tinubu that resulted in the successful coordination of the Easter pilgrimage completion exercise.
The Honourable Minister declared that pilgrimage is a very significant religious activity because it gives pilgrims the chance to visit the Holy Sites that they have read about in the Bible firsthand.
She warned the FCT pilgrims not to do anything that would bring shame on the country while they were at the Holy Land. She stated that “the current government frowns at abscondment.” She made threats to punish any FCT pilgrims who disregarded the NCPC’s established rules.
More than 300 intended pilgrims from FCT, Bayelsa, and Imo were evacuated to Israel and Jordan.