The Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) through its Executive Secretary, Tor Uja has revealed reasons for the delay of the Easter pilgrimage slated for April.
The Executive Secretary disclosed this on Monday in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the exercise was delayed following operational reasons.
Uja stated, “The first reason was because the general pilgrimage for 2018 only ended in the middle of February just before the general elections and the commission will not want Nigerians to be outside the country during the general elections.
“The second reason is that most of the stakeholders were busy with the elections and need time to make provision for the pilgrims. We have to screen them, get their visas, sort them out and make adequate preparations for them. Also the commission has to go round the states which have not been done.
“Thirdly and very serious, Israelis have their own holiday in the month of April and it starts from April 15 till the end of the month. As a nation we normally go in thousands and the hotels we normally used would have been occupied by the Israelis who came from far to observe the holidays.” He said.
He explained that for the reasons stated, the commission felt the Easter pilgrimage slated for April, 2019 should come after these holidays, adding that all arrangements will be concluded and from June 2 we will commence the first flight to Israel.
Uja explained that the Commission was working on the cost of Pilgrimage so it could be affordable, “NCPC is not making profit out of Pilgrimage. 740,000 is the cost of a pilgrim to Jerusalem, (Israel) and back. It covers to and fro airfare, visa processing, all forms of insurance, tour of Holy Sites, hotels accommodation and feeding.
“This cost is per pilgrim because we are providing very good hotels accommodations; good food and excellent plans and they would be moved around Israel by new air-conditioned buses.”
He said that for the past two years, NCPC has been subsidising the cost but cannot afford to do so anymore as the commission is not in such position.
Calling on youths to partake in this year’s exercise, he said, “We are looking for sponsors that will help us take youths to Israel in batches so that they can come back to the nation to be a blessing; we have not yet succeeded but we will. The commission intends to strengthen these two areas; youths and women pilgrimage so that they can rescue Nigeria and also reposition the nation for the future.” He said.