As part of move to consolidate its base ahead of 2019 elections, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the weekend inaugurated a 10-man committee on Muslim and Christian pilgrimages.
The committee which is headed by a former Grand Kadi of Kwara State, Justice Idris Haroon, is to coordinate the pilgrimages sponsorship by the Senate president.
Among other duties, the committee will select and screen those to be sponsored for Hajj, Umrah and Jerusalem pilgrimages by Saraki.
Â Speaking during the inauguration of the committee which also has the Secretary of the stateâ€™s chapter of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Cornelius Fawenu, as a member, Saraki said he decided to take over the responsibility of sponsoring Muslim and Christian faithful on pilgrimages because the government could no longer do it because of economic challenges.
Explaining the rationale behind his decision, the Senate president said: â€œAny good leader must at all times listen to the yearnings of his people.
â€œWe have our Muslim and Christian brothers desirous of observing the pilgrimages, but could not afford the cost. We will help such people with a forum through which they can realise their dreams.
â€œWe may not be able to do like the government which used to sponsor about 400 when I was governor of the state, we will start with 100. The coming Umrah (lesser Hajj) shall be the starting point.â€
Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Justice Haroon, thanked Allah for preserving Sarakiâ€™s life and for what he has been able to achieve, not only in the state but the country.
He praised the Senate president for his initiative, saying: â€œThis which you have initiated as a true Muslim is the first of its kind in this state and Nigeria.â€
He assured that the committeeâ€™s members to work assiduously to meet the aspirations of the people.
â€œWe will do our job with the fear of God and shall ensure that only pious people are selected for the exercise,â€ Haroon stated.
The CAN Secretary, Rev. Cornelius Fawenu, described the inauguration of the committee as â€œa day that has gone into the Guinness Book of Record as unprecedented.