By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam, has said that the commission would like to contribute to the effort in building peace and religious harmony in the country.
He said that NCPC is planning to submit a proposal to the federal government to consider establishing a department charged with the task of resolving such fledging conflicts like the inter religious disputes, herdsmen-farmers clashes, communal and inter state conflicts in the country.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY in Abuja, Rev. Pam said that he would also like to promote a new orientation regarding the annual Christian pilgrimage to Israel so that pilgrims can begin to see themselves as agents of peace and national development.
“I am working on a plan to make a proposal to the federal government to consider setting up a department that will be able to attend to the issues of peace and conflict resolution in the country.
“We want to bring a new concept. NCPC can do a lot in helping to build peace in this country. So I am already working on it, to see if there is a way that something can be done in the aspect of building peace for the country, especially in the area of ensuring religious harmony,” he said.
While justifying his new approach, the NCPC boss said that religious pilgrimage should not be seen merely as a tourism venture but a learning opportunity to see how things that worked in the Holy land can be emulated and used to transform our country.
On the plan to use the commission’s platform to broker peace and conflict resolution, Pam said that NCPC will serve as a bridge to help resolve religious conflicts.
“We relate with the people, we know their yearning desires and how they feel. The church leaders have their complaints, states have their complaints but we can come in as a bridge builders to help resolve issues that might lead to religious conflicts.
“Practically, I am always on the field, dealing with the issues of the farmers/herdsmen clashes in Plateau and Benue States, conflict in Taraba State with regard to the conflict between the Jikuns and Tivs. We have been on it and so even as the chief executive of the NCPC, I wouldn’t forget that,” he said.
The new Executive Secretary of NCPC also spoke of his mission to transform the commission into highly respected organization.
He said that his first priority is to ensure that the image of the commission is corrected.
According to him, many issues have cropped up in the past that tended to tarnish the image of NCPC and which must be corrected.
He said: “Things need to be corrected. The image of the place need to be corrected. This place is like a church, a house of God but so many things have happened in the past that we need to correct it. We want the image of this place to be transformed. We want to portray the image to the outside world as a place of God”.