NCPC says Israel’s insistence on their COVID-19 vaccines reason for Jordan pilgrimage

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Photo: Rev Yakubu Pam, NCPC boss

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Rev Yakubu Pam, has said that the insistence by the Israeli Government that intending pilgrims must take their own version of COVID-19 vaccines before entering the country was the reason for the NCPC’s decision this year to opt for the first ever pilgrimage to Jordan for the country’s Christians.

The NCPC boss gave the explanation during his appearance on a Nigerian Television Authoriy, NTA, live programme in Jos monitored by our correspondent on Friday night.

He further explained that the recent crisis in the Gaza Strip also informed the NCPC’s decision to look away from Israel as a pilgrimage destination for Nigeria’s intending pilgrims and settled for the Kingdom of Jordan to perform this year’s pilgrimage as an alternative destination.

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The NCPC Executive Secretary stressed that the pilgrims will still get the same value for the exercise just as going to Israel because Jordan also has a deluge of holy sites for pilgrims to visit, adding that the purpose of the spiritual exercise will not be changed in any way.

“Jordan has many holy sites just like Israel. There are more than 100 holy sites all over the world and by the mandate given to the Commission by the 2007 Act of Paliarment that Established it, pilgrims can visit all these sites.

He said: “The decision to embark on the Jordan pilgrimage was due to Israel’s insistence on Nigeria to accept her version of the COVID-19  vaccination.

“Also, the war in Gaza which we thought could provide some security challenges to pilgrims is another key reason. The purpose of pilgrimage is to invoke the spirit of God upon Nigeria and the people, and not a mere tourism.”

Rev Pam also disclosed that unlike in the past pilgrimages to Israel when intending pilgrims were transported from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the intending pilgrims to Jordan are to be airlifted from the Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos.

He explained that this was aimed at minimizing insecurity risks on the highways and reducing the hardships faced by intending pilgrims traveling long distances.

“The airlift of Christian pilgrims from Jos to Jordan is going to reduce the hardship being faced by pilgrims in past, who had to travel under severe risks to Abuja. The challenge faced by pilgrims during such operations travelling from far distances to Abuja is exposing them to dangers of insecurity and health challenges,” Rev Pam added.

Our correspondent gathered that the transportation of the intending pilgrims to the Kingdom of Jordan will commence from Jos, on July 24.

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