As part of efforts to ensure a successful airlifting of intending pilgrims for Easter pilgrimage, the management of Nigerian Christians Pilgrims Commissions ( NCPC ) has called on Federal Airports Authority of Nigerian ( FAAN ) and other stakeholders to work in partnership with the commission.
The Executive secretary of the commission , Uja Tor Uja made this call during a meeting with the management of FAAN and other stakeholders at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos on Tuesday.
According to Uja ” In the next four weeks or so we are going to commence our Easter pilgrimage. It ought to have started about few weeks ago but due to the elections and some other issues that came up we have to shift it to June .
We need your help , we do not want Nigerians to go outside this country and die . The help we need from you is that when we take pilgrims, we want to do a double check on them at the airports . One of those checks is a medical check . On our part we have decided not to take Nigerians to dangerous places while on pilgrimage ”
He stressed that medical check does not hinder pilgrims from going on pilgrimage but it may change the time of going .
He added that if the commission discover that any pilgrims is not physically fit to travel, such person can be delayed until he/ she goes through medication and certified fit to travel.
” We need a convenient place in the airport to do that check because some people may hide different things and situation in their lives and when they travel it may become a challenge ”
He also called on the security operatives in the airports to be proactive and assist the commission to fish out those people who may want to travel and decide not to come back to the country.
He pointed out that the commission have set out parameters for the intending pilgrims which includes; age , occupation , financial stability and others with the view to preventing them from absconding .
“Yet sometimes people escape these parameters up to the airports . We have set out the principle of vetting at the airports . We need our security personnel and airport officers to assist us in doing this so that those that don’t need to go will go . We want everybody who is going on pilgrimage from Nigeria to come back ”
The executive secretary called on the airport officials to show more respect to Nigerian pilgrims while performing this task.
Uja said that International community can only respect us by our services capacity and service abiity.
“The International community will deal with us depend on how much we show respect to our own people. We are carrying a colonial mentality that once somebody with a different skin appears everybody begin to shake at home and gives hypocritical attention . But the real attention we need to give is to Nigerians weither they are rich or poor , sick or infirm , educated or uneducated , urban or rural ”
He explained that every Nigerian must be treated with dignity and respect by every service provider especially for pilgrims who come from different parts of the country.
He noted that the duty of public officials to Nigerians is to show them respect irrespective of their ethnic and religion background.
” It is not service when we pretend to serve foreign people and then we ignore our people . All our people must be given proper attention.” Uja noted.
On her part, the regional general manager South West / Airport Manager Murtala International Airport, Victoria Shin-Aba assured the commission that all necessary checks will be conducted on the pilgrims.
She added that the equipment are on ground to carry out the exercise.
” I know over the year we have had good relationship with the commission, that is why most of the time, we don’t know when they operate because they have everything smoothly ” Shin-Aba stated.
Stakeholders at the meeting include; Nigeria Immigration Service ( NIS) , Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS ) , Nigeria Drugs Law and Enforcement Agency ( NDLEA ) , Port Health , Department of State Service ( DSS ) . Others are ; Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps ( NSCDC ) , Nigeria Police and Airforce.