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11th December, 2013.
From right; Nigeria Ambassador to the State of Israel, HE David Obasa, Chairman, Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission, His Grace Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh and Executive Secretary, NCPC, Mr. John Kennedy Opara at the meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel recently.


The Nigeria Ambassador to Israel, HE David Obasa has commended the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) for the success of landmark presidential pilgrimage this year.

The Ambassador made the commendation recently in Tel Aviv, Israel while playing host to the Federal Government delegation to Israel in Nigerian Embassy.

Ambassador Obasa described the Presidential Pilgrimage as epoch making being the first time of its kind in the history of Christian pilgrimage in Nigeria when a President personally performed Holy Pilgrimage.

According to him, "It is a pleasant surprise that a country could honour God where the first citizen could come to the Holy Land to pray and worship God".

The recently signed Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with the State of Israel during the President Goodluck Jonathan's Holy Pilgrimage to Israel as facilitated by NCPC was also applauded by Ambassador Obasa. The Envoy explained that one of the dividends of the BASA is reduction in the travel time between Nigeria and Israel.

In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Mr. John Kennedy Opara gave a rundown of this year's pilgrimage operation so far.

He explained that in line with the Calendar of Ativity of the Commission this year; Opara said "This year's pilgrimage exercise supposed to commence on 28th October but was later flagged off on19th October because of the Presidential pilgrimage".

The NCPC boss added that on 23rd October, Mr. President and his entourage left for Israel on to perform their Holy Pilgrimage. Mr. Opara explained that about 16 Governors and four Deputy Governors performed the Holy Pilgrimage with Mr. President.

The NCPC helmsman added that prior to the Presidential pilgrimage that he paid a sensitization visit to 29 Governors. He also informed members of the Federal Government Delegation that about 11,050 pilgrims have so far been airlifted to Israel with about 54 flights.

The NCPC boss further intimated that this year's pilgrimage operations would come to an end on 23rd December, 2013.
He also hinted that the Commission for the first time made use of 7 International Airports during this year operations to reduce the pressure of long travels by pilgrims and also to reduce risk.

The NCPC helmsman also stated that the inaugural flight to Greece for this year's pilgrimage is scheduled for 17th December, 2013 and intending pilgrims would fly from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. He affirmed that the Greece Embassy would release all the visas for intending pilgrims very soon.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Federal Government delegation, Senator Ifeanyi Nwagwu also commended the leadership of NCPC for their giant strides.

Senator Nwagwu equally said that he was impressed with the quality of reception and the performance of the Nigerian Mission in Israel. He assured that the Senate would work hard to assist the Mission. He described pilgrimage as a "Spiritual Transformation and not an issue of over sight as they were in Israel to pray for themselves and Nigeria".

On her part, the Chairperson, House committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mrs. Nnenna Ukaeje congratulated the Nigerian Ambassador to Israel for the landmark Presidential pilgrimage this year.

Hon. Ukaeje said, "The issue of pilgrimage is a serious affair". She congratulated NCPC for the successful signing of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with the State of Israel. She concluded that every treaty signed on behalf of Nigeria should be beneficial to all Nigerians.

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