Babachir David Lawal

Jaiyeola Andrews in Abuja

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr. Babachir David Lawal on Wednesday commended the Nigerian Christian Pilgrimage Commission (NCPC) for the innovations introduced by the body to fund its activities and inspire Nigerians who perform the Christian holy pilgrimage.

He made the remarks in his office while receiving the 2015 Report of the Commission.

Lawal assured the body that government would do all within its powers to address the key challenges of the commission and ensure that the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) signed with Israel becomes operational and that debts owed the commission are recovered.

The SGF added that the small size of the staff nominal roll of the commission was commendable.

He noted that the size would ensure that the recurrent expenditure of the commission remains reasonable, as well as ensuring that more funds are available for capital projects.

The SGF advised the commission to ensure that it does not run foul of government policy on the Treasuring Single Account (TSA), despite its commercialisation program.

In a statement by the Director of Press in the SGF’s office, Bolaji Adebiyi, the SGF urged the commission to remain non-partisan in the discharge of its responsibilities.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrimage Commission, Reverend Nicolas Okoh, told Lawal that altogether, four pilgrimages were conducted in 2015.

He listed them as the Easter, Youth, Family and Main Pilgrimages.

According to him, during the pilgrimages, there were no abscondment nor mishaps.

The Executive Secretary, Mr. Kennedy Opara in his comments confirmed that for the main pilgrimage, pilgrims, apart from visiting Israel, were also taken to Greece and Rome.

He said youths who performed the pilgrimage were exposed to skill acquisition programme in agriculture to serve as additional incentive to perform the holy pilgrimage, as well as prepare them for employment.