Niger Govt Detaches Self From Sponsoring Pilgrimage

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By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Niger State Government said it is considering washing its hands from sponsorship of it’s citizens to perform religious pilgrimage saying individual citizens who desire to perform such religious and spiritual exercise should fund their trips.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello said Wednesday while addressing government’s appointed delegation to the 2017 Christian pilgrims to Israel who just turned in it’s report to the state government that religious exercise such as performance of pilgrimage should not be government business nor undertaken with public funds.
The governor hinted that in due time, it would come out with operational guidelines stipulating the limit involvement of the state government being a secular state in such monastic issues for probity sake.
Over time, the issue of sponsorship of persons on pilgrimage from public coffers have remained a sensitive subject as many apologies have routed for the continuation of the sponsorship which has however been a huge drainpipe via which sharp practices are perpetrated by government functionaries and their cronies.
Governor Sani Bello while receiving the report, gave it an 80% scores saying the report would be studied properly and decisions would be made therefrom.
He conceded that it was however the responsibility of the government to appoint persons as leaders of the contingent of those who had paid for themselves adding that over time the state has had difficulties in getting funds to even pay for it’s officials to lead pilgrims from the state on pilgrimage.
He therefore disclosed that it is considering how to reduce it’s financial commitments to all persons performing religious pilgrimages.
”To every pilgrimage, we often have difficulties in raising funds to sponsor the persons”. Though it is our responsibility to finance and provide funds and resources to government’s delegations, we are seriously being constrained by lack of funds” he said.
”We are trying to cut down government’s commitment in sponsoring religious pilgrimages. It is not God’s intention that people should suffer because they want to perform pilgrimage”. He said those who have the wherewithal to perform such religious exercises should do so while those without the means should not be bothered.
He assured the government team to the 2017 Christian pilgrimage that the report would be studied and areas of correction noted to ensure hitchfree future pilgrimage.
Leader of the 2017 Christian pilgrimage team, Reverend Sama’ila Yarima Samande told the governor that the 2017 pilgrimage to Israel was without any hitch.
He appealed to the governor to create an autonomous department for Christian pilgrimage in the state pilgrims welfare board for a smooth and well coordinated operations for pilgrimage.
Reverend Sama’ila Yarima Samande also advised the governor to henceforth make early appointment of persons to lead as government’s delegation to pilgrimage to Israel to enable those listed to start early preparations and hit the ground running in mobilising and enlightening the Christian folks for the exercise.

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