In response to concerns raised by intending pilgrims in Lagos State, the Government has assured the 2020 Christian pilgrims that plans have been concluded to airlift them for the exercise and that would start when coast becomes clear for international travel earlier suspended over outbreak of coronavirus.
The State Government the intended pilgrims would have completed the religious rites but the outbreak of coronavirus disrupted plans globally and resulted in a ban on air travel introduced to curb a possible spread of coronavirus which affected pilgrims itinerary.
Assuring the intending pilgrims that their airfare was intact and not entertain fears, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Anofiu Elegushi, at a stakeholders forum organised by the state’s Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board on Thursday, stressed that part of the challenges encountered after the virus spread to Nigeria was the inability to airlift pilgrims that had been shortlisted for the trip for April/May Easter pilgrimage
At the programme held within Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, Elegushi noted that though the Holy pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise, the delay in plans was part of almighty God’s doing and that pilgrims must keep hope alive and believe in God’s timing and that airlifting of pilgrims will commence once the Holy lands open their borders for religious activities.
“As we are all aware, this pandemic has greatly affected the 2020 pilgrimage especially the April/May Easter Pilgrimage which had to be canceled. The authorities in the Holy lands (Isreal and Rome) had to temporarily close their borders to pilgrims until further notice.
“I can confidently assure you that as soon as the curve of this pandemic is flattened and the Holy lands unlock their borders, we will airlift the November/December 2020 intending pilgrims.
“We are hoping that 2020 general pilgrimage will hold and therefore we encourage those who have already subscribed to be rest assured that their funds are safe and secured with the Lagos State Government. By the special grace of Almighty, we shall overcome this pandemic,” he said.
Earlier, Permanent Secretary for the ministry, Elizabeth Adekanye, told the intending pilgrims that delay was not denial from embarking on the trip to holy land.
“We are appealing to you to remain calm and believe that the trip has not been suspended indefinitely, so you can leave the country anytime for the holy land; please do not entertain any fear on your pilgrimage.
“And rather than entertain fear, go into prayers and seek almighty God intervention against Coronavirus pandemic that has affected the world, I believe that if we do this, we will defeat this virus in no time”, she added.