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22nd July, 2013.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Mr. John Kennedy Opara unfolding the 2013 pilgrimage package in a media parley in his office in Abuja recently.

NCPC boss announced reduction in 2013 pilgrimage package

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Mr. John Kennedy Opara has stressed that pilgrimage is a spiritual journey and as such intending pilgrims to the Holy Land should prepare their minds to have a special and rewarding encounter with God.

The NCPC helmsman stated this recently in his office in Abuja during a parley with newsmen where he announced a reduction in the package cost of the 2013 Christian Pilgrimage to Israel, Rome and Greece.

Opara further reiterated that the Commission would only guarantee 3-Stars Hotels for Pilgrims while in the Holy Land and not 5-Stars Hotels since the 11 days trip is on spiritual transformation.

The NCPC boss disclosed that intending pilgrims to Israel this year would pay N358,000, a reduction of N48,150, Special Group package for the physically challenged is N365,300, a decrease of N35,125, while intending pilgrim to Rome and Greece would pay N421,618.80 a reduction of N107,821.20.

Opara thanked Mr. President for approving this year's package in good time at the concessionary exchange rate of N146 to $1.

"As a way to ensure that pilgrims observe the spirituality of the exercise there was need to take these measures. The Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) is now N146,000 ($1000) maximum for pilgrims to Rome or Greece and N109,500 ($750) maximum for pilgrims to Israel and N73,000 ($500) minimum," Opara said.

The NCPC helsmn affirmed that the Commission has been able to make tremendous reduction in the light of the 2013 pilgrimage package.

Consequently, he averred that the Commission would do everything humanly possible to make sure that pilgrimage is affordable to every Christian.

"The reduction in this year's pilgrimage was possible because of the robust and fruitful negotiations the Commission has with Ground Handlers in the Holy Land", Opara said.

Opara further hinted, "Ours is to ensure that people can pay themselves". He explained that Government's involvement is to ensure free hitch operation by providing medical and consular services.

The NCPC boss also pointed out that the government's involvement in pilgrimage is very limited. He maintained that the Commission was committed to make pilgrimage affordable.

He added that he would want the Commission to be self sustaining and serve as a reference point among other Agencies of government.

He disclosed that the theme of this year's pilgrimage is: "Pilgrimage as a tool for moral and spiritual transformation".

He stressed that it was because of the spiritual content of pilgrimage that informed the idea of family pilgrimage in order to "get our families back to restore our moral values".

He stated that the commencement of airlift of first batch of intending pilgrims to the Holy Land would be on 28th October 2013 and would end on 28th December, 2013.

In the same vein, the NCPC boss also revealed that the family pilgrimage would commence first week of August and terminate at the end of August 2013.

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