Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission, (NCPC) Rev Yakubu Pam has charged Christian Pilgrimage Operators to always ensure that the image of Nigeria is protected outside the country while on Pilgrimage exercise.
He gave the charge during a meeting with the Christian Tourism Practitioners Association of Nigeria, CTPAN at Shepherd hills Baptist Church, Obanikoro in Lagos yesterday.
Rev Pam affirmed that COVID 19 pandemic had made the issue of travelling to Israel difficult since 2019, but with his recent visit to Israel where he met with the Israeli Tourism Minister, traveling to Israel on pilgrimage would soon commence in earnest.
He explained that despite the challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic, the Commission was proactive to had embarked on its maiden Pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Jordan which was a huge success.
He stressed that the Commission recorded zero abscondment of pilgrims in Jordan for the first time in the history of our Pilgrimage.
To this end, he urged the Christian Pilgrimage Operators to leverage on the giant strides the Commission had recorded in the area of zero abscondment to ensure that no Pilgrim absconds under their watch as the Commission would not tolerate any case of abscondment from them.ln the words of the NCPC boss,” those who have our licence should be people of high intergrity and should be well respected”.
Rev Pam decried the situation whereby some people had taken advantage of the Commission,s success in Jordan to move pilgrims to Jordan without recourse to the Commission.
He reaffirmed that the era when people would go on pilgrimage without going through NCPC and without being fully registered and licenced by the Commission was over and culprits would be made to face the music accordingly. He added,” people who go on pilgrimage without doing the right thing will not be allowed to operate in order to protect the image of Nigeria”.
He further affirmed,’ for the purpose of abscondment, we will not allow any illegality henceforth for those traveling outside Nigeria on pilgrimage”.
Rev Pam explained that the Commission would continue to support those private Christian Pilgrimage Operators who had been working closely with the Commission, especially those who are fully registered and licenced by the Commission.
The NCPC helmsman further urged the Christian Pilgrimage Operators to intensify the spiritual capacity of their operation so that pilgrims could enjoy the spiritual essence of pilgrimage.
He disclosed that the Commission would soon open a Desk for Christian Pilgrimage Operators in NCPC which would report directly to his office to ensure that all matters concerning them are treated with despatch.
He admonished them to embark on strong advocacy and mobilization of intending pilgrims for the 2021 pilgrimage exercise. He said he would meet with the Christian Association of Nigeria,CAN and other stakeholders to have a buy – in for the 2021 pilgrimage.
The NCPC helmsman also decried the high cost of the PCR test which would make pilgrims to pay a lot in the course of accessing pilgrimage.
The N0 1 Christian Pilgrim Officer of the Federation, also intimated that every intending Pilgrim would be required to be fully vaccinated with the two doses of the vaccine.
He revealed that the possibility of having direct flight from Nigeria to Israel was discussed with the Israeli authorities and is receiving positive attention.
Earlier, the President of the Christian Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria, CTPAN, Rev Dr Israel Kristilere thanked the NCPC boss for considering it apposite to meet with the members of the Association at this auspicious time.
He further thanked the NCPC boss for his promise to work closely with the Association for better Pilgrimage.
He called on the Executive Secretary to ensure that the Commission takes stringent measures against those who had refused to register with the Commission, yet they are taking pilgrims to the Holy Land.
Rev Kristilere further demanded that the Executive Secretary should ensure that he meets with the members of the Association at least twice a year so that they could keep abreast with happenings in the pilgrimage sub- sector as it affects the Association.