By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Over 200,000 faithful of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (BCS) completed their 3-day pilgrimage to Biakpan, the birthplace of the Founder and Spiritual Leader, Olumba Olumba Obu.
Biakpan is an interior community in Biase Local Government’ Area of Cross River State but is fast gaining global attention because it is the birthplace of His Holiness Leader Olumba Olumba Obu.
Most of the faithfus came from South-South, Southeast and a handful from the Western, Northern parts of Nigeria and nearby countries.
It could have been more but for the renewed lockdown in most countries which did not allow them to participate in the annual spiritual exercise.
This was disclosed to newsmen by Archbishop Mike Ntuk, chairman of the Pilgrimage Management Committee.
According to him, the Pilgrimage stated December 10 to Sunday 13, 2020 and some of the major activities undertaken included daily 6am to 6pm fast, visits to some historical sites, solemn moments and lecture held inside the massive Legacy Hall built in 2018 to commemorate the 100th birthday of the founder and sustainer Leader Olumba Olumba Obu.
Highlights at the event was the diping into the Biakpan stream, which they described as the “Living Spring”, by the pilgrims.
He affirmed that the slow running stream is very potent and has cleansed array of ailments from affected people who plunged into it.
“His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu, he said, who is the spiritual leader personally participated in the exercise where he commissioned some projects embarked upon by some priestly groups in the fold, including the Mansion of Blessedness.
Meanwhile, the people of Biakpan in Biase local government area of Cross River State have expressed happiness at the increasing attraction of their community to the outside world.
Natives of Biakpan have commended the religious group, Brotherhood of the Cross and Star whose teeming membership have turned their community into their pilgrimage site.
The paramount ruler of Biakpan which has 12 clans, Onun Enun Bassey, a medical doctor in an interview said the influx of members of the religious groups from time to time has transformed their community into a tourist site, bringing hotels and a $3 million rubber processing plant.
“Their sheer number has tremendously impacted our local economy because the fold will usually spend three or four days in our community, spending good money to buy our local farm produces thereby enriching our people. The slow running stream in our community as well as the hut where the leader of the fold was born over 100 years ago are their major attractions. They have many groups that come in here in their numbers, not just during annual pilgrimage at the end of the year. These constant influxes have positive impact on our community.”
A prominent lawyer who is also an indigene of Biakpan community, Mba Ukweni (SAN) said aside the only disadvantage of the unprecedented crowds of pilgrims and tourists which is pollution of the water and messing up of the environment, they have been very happy with the influx of the visitors.
“We are truly happy that frequently members of the Brotherhood fold come on pilgrimage to our community just because their founder is our. Their coming has usually bolstered our local economy. The only disadvantage is that the huge crowd would natural negate environmental cleanliness. But that’s not much of a problem. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. We welcome them.”
Reacting, the Bishop of Cross River State and Biakpan City, Archbishop Alex Ukam, said “we have erected array of conveniences and other facilities to contain much of the huge crowds, so that pollution of the environment is not compromised”.
“We had sanitation and security taskforces to take care of the worries of the community. We work in concert with the Nigeria Police outpost in Biakpan. The 3-day pilgrimage is a solemn and spiritual one, giving no room for random activities.”
Earlier, Commissioner for Tourism, Eric Anderson said they, too, have usually been excited at the attraction of Biakpan to tourists, foreigners and residents.