Jonathan urges corporate bodies to sponsor pilgrims.

President Goodluck Jonathan has called on corporate bodies in the country to join state governments in sponsoring the annual pilgrimage.

Mr. Jonathan made the call after he received a report  from the Federal Government delegation to the 2011 Christian Pilgrimage to Israel, Rome and Greece.

The 11-man delegation was led by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor.

“Apart from states, corporate bodies should also be encouraged to sponsor pilgrims, sometimes they want to do it, but they need somebody to reach out to them to do so. Even wealthy individuals can also sponsor people,” Mr. Jonathan said.

The president also  called on religious leaders to partners with his government in properly educating Nigerians on the importance of collective commitment to building bridges of harmony and unity.

“ I believe that now more than ever before, our religious organisations have an obligation to function as proactive partners as we thrive to entrench peace, unity, security, stability, progress and prosperity across our nation,” the president said.

Mr. Jonathan also requested that the political class make the fear of God their watch word.

“My charge to our religious leaders also goes to the political class. I always maintain that our nation can only maintain the lofty height which the Almighty God has destined for us as a people, if the political leadership is guided by the ideals of justice, equity, selflessness and the fear of God,” The president said.

He thanked members of the delegation for undertaking the assignment successfully and  hoped they will respond with the same zeal when they are called upon to serve the nation this year and in the future.

The leader of the delegation, Ayo Oritsejafor, said a total of 17,543 pilgrims took part in the pilgrimage. He noted that the exercise was affected by the fuel subsidy removal crisis as many persons that would have undertaken the trip could not do so.

Mr. Oritsejafor said that Despite the challenge,the exercise was a success.

The Christian leader made some recommendations to the president. He said if the recommendations were  implemented, it will go a long way in ameliorating the difficulties faced by pilgrims.

The recommendations include – the need for early inauguration of Federal Government delegation and the need for the signing of bilateral agreement with the State of Israel to afford Nigerians have direct flight to Israel.

Mr. Oritsejafor also called on the president to liaise with state governors with a view to making the exercise a once a year event as opposed to trip in batches.

He requested that the president met with Christian governors from time to time so as to discuss faith based issues.


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