By Jude Zoho
The Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) recently commenced the airlift of the first batch of intending pilgrims to Israel under its youth and family pilgrimage programme.
The intending pilgrims departed the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on August 29, 2016 at 1 p.m. for Israel to start the exercise.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the NCPC’s spokesman, Celestine Ogugua said the prospective pilgrims were led by the commission’s Executive Secretary Rev. Uja Tor Uja.
While fielding questions from newsmen at the Airport before departure, Rev. Uja described this year’s youth and family pilgrimage as exploratory pilgrimage.
He said the exercise would give him the opportunity to effect the necessary changes on the entire pilgrimage process.
According to him, the process is due for a major overhauling and that is what the commission intends to do.
He disclosed the commission’s intention to reduce the cost of pilgrimage to encourage more persons to participate in the exercise.
Uja said the commission planned to reduce the cost of pilgrimage by 30 percent.
On the safety and welfare of the pilgrims, the NCPC boss said he would not compromise on standards to ensure maximum comfort of Nigerian pilgrims.
“Anywhere there is crisis, Nigerians should not be taken there, Nigerians deserve to be protected anywhere in the world.
“Under my watch, the comfort and welfare of pilgrims will be guaranteed.”
Uja also spoke on his recent tour of Northern and Southern Israel to explore the rich agricultural endowment of Israel with a view to replicating same back in Nigeria.
He said plans were underway to introduce a package for farmers in the pilgrimage process.
He further spoke on the need for every Nigerian pilgrim to carry the country’s heritage as a national symbol.