Stories by Stanley Onyekwere
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has charged the 2017 FCT Intending Christian Pilgrims to shun any act that will draw negative attention or make life more difficult for other Nigerians that might want to embark on pilgrimage in the future.
The Minister, who gave this charge during a pre-departure orientation for the pilgrims in Abuja , advised them to be good ambassadors of the country.
He also urged them to abide by all the rules and regulations that have been put in place to ensure a successful exercise.
He expressed his close connection with the pilgrims reflecting that nearly 10 years of his public service years were spent as a pilgrims’ officer.
Bello, who lamented the absconding of 8 out of 300 members of the 2016 contingent said such acts have the potentials to worsen the experiences of the country’s pilgrims as stiffer procedures could be introduced to limit their freedom while in the Holy Land.
He therefore appealed to this year’s intending pilgrims against detracting from the intended purpose, saying they are expected to go to the Holy Land to pray and come back as better citizens.
According to the minister, “Each time a pilgrim goes and refuses to come back either by deciding to abscond or to stay there, as long as it is done illegally, it robs on us as a nation and as a people because it makes the process difficult for those that are coming subsequently.”
Bello however assured that necessary steps have been taken by the FCTA and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims’ Commission to ensure the success of the exercise, saying it is now left for the pilgrims to abide by the teachings and trainings that they have received during their preparation.
The Minister equally harped on the necessity for patience among the pilgrims, saying, “You have to be very patient with your room mates, very patient with the arrangements, very patient with the officials and also very patient with those that you meet.
“As a matter of fact, in many of the places, you must have to be very patient with the food you eat.
It is not that the food is not good; but for some of us that are used to Nigerian dishes, it might become a huge challenge. But it is all a matter of a few days and you will be back home,” he stressed.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Chairman, House Committee on FCT Area Councils and Member representing AMAC/Bwari Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Hon. Zephaniah Jisalo, commended the FCT Minister for ensuring that the 2017 FCT intending Christian pilgrims were genuinely drawn from the FCT population, unlike in the past where residents of other states participated in the exercise as FCT Pilgrims.
He said, “I’m happy that I’m seeing faces that I know. What I am seeing here today, I have not seen it before and that is why I am happy.
“Irrespective of where you come from, these are persons that live here in Abuja and they are going to witness this pilgrimage, unlike before that we see people from other places.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director, FCT Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr. Dabara Dudu Zingo, disclosed that about 150 pilgrims were present for departure and represent the first of the three batches of FCT pilgrims bound for Israel this year, adding that the exercise will continue till the 25th of December this year.
He assured officials present that the contingents have been adequately prepared and thoroughly screened by the NCPC, CAN, the SSS, Civil Defence and the Police to make the exercise hitch free. On his part, Chairman, FCT CAN, Rev. Dr. Jonah Samson, urged the intending pilgrims to keep their focus on the purpose for pilgrimage and to pray for our country’s leaders as well as for the peace and development of Nigeria.