President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to take Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land serious in other not to jeopardize the existing relationship between him and Christians in the country.
This charge is coming from Catholic Action of Nigeria, CAN, Catholic Media Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria,(CAMPAN) and other religious body following the removal of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, Rev Tor Ujah.
Ujah, it could be recalled was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission In August, 2019 without any replacement.
The groups in a statement signed Mr. Peter Agbontean, Chairman, Board of Trustees Catholic Action Nigeria and
Mr. Patrick Osu National President
CAMPAN had urged the President to appoint a substantive Executive Secretary for the Nigerian Christians Pilgrims Commission to forsee the activities of the commission.
According to the statement, “Catholic Action Nigeria (CAN) and the Catholic Media Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN) are concerned that four months after President Muhammadu Buhari sacked the former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, Rev Tor Ujah, no appointment has been made to fill the existing vacuum, hence the statutory functions of the Commission of organising, coordinating and facilitating the air lifting of intending pilgrims to Holy sites across the world have been undermined.
“It will be recalled that Rev Ujah was sacked on August 27, 2019 and Mrs Esther Kwaghe, a Director of Administration in the Commission, was directed to oversee the office pending the appointment of a substantive Executive Secretary.
Ujah’s sack was announced in a statement by the Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Mr Willie Bassey, who said President Buhari took the action in line with the provision of section 4, sub-section 3 of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission Act.
This action has hindered the activities of the Commission to a point that pilgrimage has been organised in the manner it should have been for those who intend to embark on this spiritual exercise including this Christmas season.
“We are having Christmas without pilgrimage for Nigerian Christians, of which, of the estimated population of 200million Nigerians, 90million are Christians, which is about 40% of the country’s population. Of this Christian population, about 2/3 are or Catholics or have Catholic ancestry.
Making Catholics about 50million of the country’s population. Imagine then this huge Catholic population under edification during this season of Christmas making all better for 2020, that already transforms the whole nation. This is more than a little leaven that leaven the whole lump.
Christmas remains a Sacred Season and those who cannot go to Bethlehem of Judea, though can create their own grotto and venerate until such a time they get the support or resources to visit, would have been better off by the Grotto of Jesus in Bethlehem. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, which took place in Bethlehem of Judea. This birth makes Bethlehem a unique place to be at Christmas.
Going there makes you feel fulfilled carrying out your spiritual obligations. Pilgrimage is a journey of faith every Christian should aspire for. It is a spiritual obligation.
How else can one have a vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, which we aspire towards, if we do not have a vision of the earthly one where we are presently.
“Visiting sacred places during festive seasons is what every Christian should aspire to during this sacred season. Christmas is around the corner and most Christians make plans to be with friends and families without making provision for the reason for the season because they have little or no support to travel. Should there be a substantive secretary, the difference will be distinct.
Consequently, CAN and CAMPAN, both nongovernmental organizations, and stakeholders in Christian affairs in Nigeria, are calling of the Federal Government under President Buhari to take Christian pilgrimage seriously as visits to sacred sites will reform the population and make governance easier because pilgrims always return better people.
“Pilgrimage should be a collective aspiration for both the people and the government because it is not easy for people to make their travels to these places without the government’s support.
This support is necessary and solicited as pilgrimage is not a business or leisure journey but one that tends to edification.
“CAN and CAMPAN are therefore calling on Mr. President, as a matter of urgency, to appoint a substantive Executive Secretary for the Commission to enable it perform its statutory functions.
“We also called on all Nigerian Christians, home and abroad, to remain peaceful and use this season of Christmas to pray for the unity of our country, as well as abide by the teachings of Christ, which is love for God and neighbour. Let us build on what unites us rather than what divides us.
“We mustmend our ways, encourage each other and live harmoniously. If we make peace our watchword, the God of peace will be with us and remain with us all. It reads.