The Honourable Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi has assured intending pilgrims to the holy land of Israel that the Year 2020 pilgrimage exercise will proceed as soon as the curve of the Coronavirus pandemic is flattened and the Holy lands borders are opened.
The Commissioner gave the assurance during a Stakeholders forum/ Sensitization of Intending Pilgrims to Jerusalem on Thursday at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, Ikeja. Elegushi noted that the pandemic has greatly affected the 2020 pilgrimage exercise especially the April/May Easter pilgrimage which had to be cancelled due to the temporary closure of the borders of the Holy lands (Israel and Rome). He however allayed the fears of intending pilgrims that the 2020 November/December General pilgrimage exercise will not hold stating that the ministry has been in constant touch with the ministry of interior in the holy lands who assured them that the borders will be open as soon as the Pandemic flattens.
‘’ The reason for conveying this stakeholders meeting is to allay the fears of pilgrims that couldn’t go for the April/May Easter pilgrimage and assure them that as soon as the borders are opened, modalities will be put in place to airlift them. We want to also hear from them, answer their questions and listen to their recommendations’’ Elegushi stated.
The commissioner also assured intending pilgrims that have paid not to fret as their funds is safe and secured with the government while noting that as a responsible government no pilgrims would be denied their legitimate right to seek a refund.
The Commissioner seized the opportunity to seek the cooperation and understanding of religious leader on the State Government’s directive that worship centers should remain close noting that these efforts are for the greater good in order to forestall an epidemic while assuring that the Lagos State Government would not hesitate to open up worship centers as soon as it is appropriate and safe to do so.
Elegushi however debunked the insinuation in some quarters that Coronavirus is not real stating that people should discard the erroneous belief and adhere to adequate safety measures put in place by the government so that the virus can be stemmed in order to go back to living a normal life.
In her address, the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Adebunmi Elizabeth Adekanye stated that the stakeholder’s forum became paramount in order to reassure intending pilgrims that the State government in conjunction with the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) is putting everything in place to airlift pilgrims as soon as the borders are opened.
Adekanye emphasised the need to observe all stipulated protocols such as regular handwashing with water and soap, wearing of face masks, avoiding large gatherings, maintaining physical distancing and avoiding handshakes, among others.
The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on religious matters (Christian), Reverend Olubukola Adeleke, in his admonition charged Christians to intensify their prayers and seek the face of God in order to put an end to the ravaging virus. He noted that now is the time to move closer to God and cooperate with government by keeping to its directives.
The Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board Secretary, Mrs Florence Yetunde Gbafe assured intending pilgrims that the board will ensure that they have an hitch free pilgrimage exercise as soon as the boarders are open for airlifting noting that the welfare of pilgrims is of utmost important to the board.
Participants at the forum appreciated the Lagos State Government for the transparency and all-inclusiveness in carrying them along as events unfolds.
Stakeholders at the event include; Permanent Secretary Public Service Office (PSO),Mr. Samson Ajibade, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board (LSCPWB) Chairman, Bishop Olusola Ore, Mr Sunny Ude of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, intending pilgrims amongst others.