….Plans for 50, 000 participants

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) has announced that intending pilgrims for the 2024 pilgrimage exercise to Israel, Jordan and other holy sites will be expected to pay N4.9 million.

It, however, announced that the figure might come down if the expected financial intervention from the Presidency is received to support the operations and the exercise, as was the case with Hajj exercise.

Executive Secretary of NCPC, Bishop Stephen Adegbite, disclosed this to journalists at a press conference, in Abuja, on Friday.

He said that preparations for seamless 2024 pilgrimage exercise has been completed, hence the 2024 pilgrimage exercise will go as planned, adding that plans are being made for the participation of 40,000 to 50, 000 persons in this year’s pilgrimage exercise.

He said: “Ahead of this year’s Christian pilgrimage to Israel, NCPC recently convened a seven-day retreat/pre-visit for special pilgrimage leaders, managers and other stakeholders in Nazareth, Israel with the
theme: Enriching Christian Pilgrimage Experience for Satisfaction.

“Although the objective of the pre-visit/retreat was to enhance the experience of Christian Pilgrims from Nigeria as well as to take far-reaching decisions on issues including abscondment, we also agreed on new things to incorporate into the pilgrimage.

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“The key decision is that NCPC is set to incorporate Agricultural skill acquisition
especially for youths into the pilgrimage experience. This is with a view to getting first-hand knowledge of Israel’s globally acclaimed
agriculture sector and how to replicate it in the country.

“We see a lot of potential benefit in ensuring that our people tap into the Israeli ecosystem and its value chain. We also had several engagements with relevant Israeli individuals and government representatives as regards the 2024 pilgrimage exercise.

“The delegation which I led saw the state of things in Israel vis-a-vis the fear and anxiety regarding the safety of Nigerians that would participate in the pilgrimage exercise. The people’s fears are justified but the troubled area is Gaza, and normally, we don’t enter Gaza. It was never part of the locations we visit in the cause of the pilgrimage.

“In addition to that, we have received assurance letter from Israeli government, but I don’t want to rely on the content of the letter. That’s why I visited to see things for myself. We were 79 persons that visited Israel recently. We didn’t even enter through Tel-Aviv but through Jordan which was a road journey of over two hours. We enjoyed peace and security.

“It’s also important to know that there has always been war in Israel. My first visit to Israel was in 1999, and there’s never a year since then that there’s no war. But amidst the war, Israel is still safe for socioeconomic and pilgrimage exercises. In summary, Israel is safe for pilgrimage and we are set to commence airlifting of intending pilgrims.”

 

 


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