By Chinyere Amalu
The just-concluded 2009 Christians’ pilgrimage to Israel and Rome gulped about N9 billion, the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, NCPC, said.
Its chairman, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, who said this in Abuja, at a briefing on the last exercise,Â noted that the amount was the combination of money spent by the federal and state governments and individuals who sponsored themselves.
The chairman, who jointly briefed newsmen with NCPC’s Executive Secretary, Mr. John Okpara and other commissioners, said, â€œthe 2009 exercise was a success by all standards and giving the fact that it was the first time the commission did not record any abscondment.â€
According to him, â€œthe breakdown of the 2009 pilgrimage operation shows that 13, 800 pilgrims made it to Israel in 42 flights and were airlifted by two air carriers.” He added that the exercise recorded three deaths, two pilgrims from Lagos State and one from Kaduna State.
However, Okpara assured that the 2010 exercise would commence soon to ensure completion by December.
â€œOur officials would soon visit Israel to commence discussions for this yearâ€™s exercise which will also extend to Athens and Greece.â€