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28th July, 2016.
L-R: Executive Secretary, Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission, Rev. Tor Uja; Governor of Kaduna State, His Excellency, Malam Nasir Ahmed El-rufai and the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Barnabas Bala Bantex during the Executive Secretary, NCPC, sensitization visit to the Governor at the State Government House in Kaduna yesterday.

Pilgrimage is avenue for a lot of value addition - Governor El-Rufai

The Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai has said that there is a lot of value addition going to pilgrimage.

He disclosed this in Kaduna while receiving the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission, Rev. Tor Uja and his management team who were in Kaduna state on a sensitization visit.

He described pilgrimage as a very important religious journey aimed at enlightening the people. He affirmed that the two Abrahamic religions started in Israel. His words: "pilgrimage is part and parcel of enlightening the people".

He further stated: "we believe that these pilgrimages are very important, they enhance good morals, strengthens spirituality and helps to open new windows of possibilities, and bring the two religions together".

Governor El-Rufai commended the NCPC boss for the laudable programmes he wants to inject into Christian pilgrimage. He reiterated that foreign travels should enlighten the people.

He explained that the level of innovations of the Israeli people is something that would provoke any right thinking person because they have carved a niche for themselves in so many areas of human endeavors.

He applauded the initiative of the NCPC boss to introduce women pilgrimage. According to him, "the idea of women pilgrimage is good". He posited that any society that has good women will be a better society because women are committed and honest.

The Governor also affirmed that about 90 percent of the population of Kaduna state are young people who are less than 35 years. Thus he stated: "I think it is a great thing to target youths and women".

Mallam El-Rufai explained that one of the major challenges before NCPC is how to expand the base of Christian pilgrimage to make it sustainable.

He also lauded the Commission's support A Pilgrim To Israel (SAPTI) initiative which he said "is a welcome development". He further admonished the Commission to partner with philanthropic organizations to help in supporting the programme of the Commission.

He promised to study the areas of possible partnership with the Commission such as women pilgrimage because of value added.

He stressed that his government is colour blind to ethnicity and religion, and would not succumb to any religious blackmail.

Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission, Rev. Tor Uja appreciated the Governor for being one of the few states in Nigeria that does not owe salaries of workers. He added, "some of the things you are doing are landmark and exemplary".

The NCPC boss informed his host that pilgrimage had been an age long thing, but the Commission is transforming it to be generally acceptable to all by giving it spiritual strength, make it developmental and not just a spiritual journey.

Rev. Uja reaffirmed that Christian pilgrimage is being refocused to strengthen the spiritual mentality of the people. According to him: "we believe that our people should go to Israel and come back with a developmental strong agenda".

He told the Governor that he would challenge the pilgrims to go to Israel and come back to develop our nationalist spirit. He added: "we want all Christians who go on pilgrimage to come back with fresh developmental ideas that will transform this nation".

He drew the Governor's attention to some critical areas of focus by the Commission which include organizing Agricultural pilgrimage to Israel in order to expose pilgrims to modern agricultural trends for better yields, to enlarge and intensify youth pilgrimage so that our youth can be meaningfully engaged in productive venture.

He opined that they would benefit spiritually as well as gain through skill acquisition. This will help to curb idleness and reduce crime he postulated.

He also informed the governor on his intention to introduce women pilgrimage. He maintained that women should be organized and given the opportunity to excel. His words: "if we strengthen our women we will strengthen Nigeria".

Rev. Uja called on the Government to make Kaduna youths available to the Commission so that they would be part of the Youth Pilgrimage and be part of what the Commission is about to do.

The NCPC helmsman further declared that there has been a long gap between Christians and Moslems in the country, which he said he would want it bridged. To this effect, he intimated that the Commission would have a mutual conference of Christians and Moslems to have a fellowship dialogue.

He affirmed that Nigeria is the only country we have. He called on Christians in the country to pray for the Governors.

The Executive Secretary also had a meeting with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kaduna State Chapter.

He advised them to key into the Commission's Support a Pilgrim to Israel initiative (SAPTI) which would afford many Christians the opportunity of going to Israel with just N500 ticket if emerged winner in the raffle draws.

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