The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, Rev Yakubu Pam, has said that the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has necessitated the change from visits to Biblical sites in Israel and Jordan to sites in Greece and Rome.

Pam made this known on Wednesday while addressing journalists in Abuja and emphasised that the security and welfare of the pilgrims remained the prime concern of the NCPC.

He noted that the commission had suspended the December 2023 pilgrimage to Israel due to the same concerns, adding that after a prolonged wait for the Israel/Hamas conflict, which began on October 7, to be over, he had personally led a research team to assess and inspect accommodation facilities and existing Biblical sites in Greece and Rome.

“I have led NCPC teams to inspect holy sites across Greece and Rome. We have discussed extensively with government and local authorities and security. Accommodation and good hospitality are assured as the very first batch of Nigerian Christian pilgrims visit these places to connect physically with New Testament locations of the gospel and do spiritual exercises, including meditation and prayers for our dear nation.

“Also, arrangements for smooth flight, good meals and local transportation have been concluded for the 2023/2024 main pilgrimage; state governments, state offices of Christian Pilgrims Welfare Boards, churches and individuals have been formally informed about the modalities and the N3m cost that only requires some augmentation of payment previously made for the Israel/Jordan trip,” he said.

Pam explained that the new pilgrimage sites will include places where Apostle Paul, otherwise known as Saint Paul, passionately spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, converting polytheists and idol worshippers through extensive physical journeys and remarkable contributions that remain very significant parts of the New Testament to date.

The NCPC also stated that the new N3m pilgrimage cost covering return flight ticket, hotel accommodation, three-course meal per day, and tours of holy sites in executive luxury buses for six nights and seven days, was exclusive of pilgrims’ travelling allowances while states and private pilgrims were expected to meet up with payments before the last day of January 2024.

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, approved the appointment of nine members to serve on the board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission.

Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, revealed this in a statement titled ‘President Tinubu appoints new board of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission.’

The new appointees include Colonel Aloche Adole as Chairman, Dr. Stephen Adegbite as Secretary, Mrs Omowumi Ogunlola as member, South-West, Clement Nweke as member, South-East and Prince Wosu as Member, South-South.

Others are Prof. Joseph Mamman as member, North-West, Dr. Toma Ragnjiya, member, North-East, Dr. Simon Dolly, member, North-Central and Raphael Nwankwo representing the Christian Association of Nigeria.

According to Ngelale, the President charged the new appointees to “consider their appointment as an opportunity to serve the nation and, as such, wholly commit themselves to this important purpose.”