By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
EXECUTIVE Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, NCPC, Rev Yakubu Pam, has declared that he is innocent of the corruption allegations made against him by the Catholic Bishop of Yola, Most Rev. Stephen Dami Mamza.
Bishop Mamza had alleged massive corruption at the NCPC and called for Pam’s resignation, accusing him of shortchanging pilgrims of their accommodation money during the recent trip to Rome, the capital of Italy. He also urged the anti-graft agencies to wade in.
However, the NCPC Executive Secretary dismissed the Bishop’s allegations saying he is innocent. He also urged Nigerians to hold him responsible, if he fails to render a satisfactory account of his stewardship at the helm of affairs in the Commission.
Pam stated these on Friday when old students of College of Mary Immaculate, Zawan in Jos, Plateau state, paid him a solidarity visit in Abuja.
According to him, “I’m accountable to the people of Nigeria, and this position that God has given me, I will never put anybody to shame because I remain indebted to God and to my people. I came here in July 2020 and I’ve done a lot of things. I took over the Commission when the whole of Israel was under lockdown and you can’t go for pilgrimage. But I took advantage of the Act that establishes the NCPC which said that it mandated the Commission to organise pilgrimage to Israel and other holy places which included sites in Egypt, Jordan and Rome.
“So, I went to Jordan, did my explorations and I discovered we have holy places in Jordan, but it wasn’t easy. When I said we’re going to join and my fellow brothers in the faith were almost killing me and saying that I’m going to change the story of pilgrimage from Israel to Jordan. But immediately we eventually did it, all of them that went there, including the former CAN President said, indeed without Jordan, the Bible is not complete. It takes strong men to do certain things, and we did the exploit. Today, it is written in the history of this country that I’m the first person who took Christians to Jordan and Rome to explore the holy sites there. We did our best.
“For the first time in the history of the NCPC, more than 10 years, we have not had such an outcome that we went for pilgrimage and we recorded zero abscondment. It was during my time and these are achievements that we have recorded.
“Of course again, when the people see you achieving, you must attract jealousy. That negative feeling does not just stop at the jealousy level. They go and strike. Recently, you’ll hear some people say we have been suspended because of this or that reason. And I want to clear the air because I’m accountable to you people. We want the public to disabuse their minds from such information. There is nothing like that.
“We used to have a budget for running pilgrimage to Israel and other places every year. But since I came on board, I had it only once. And I’m proud to say that I was able to conduct three pilgrimages with it. Imagine, if I was a lazy Executive Secretary, I would have sat down and said until I get money before I go on pilgrimage. If I was here to look for money, I would press that I will not go for pilgrimage until I have a budget.
“And so these are some of the things that Nigerians need to know, but the most important thing is that we remain accountable to the public. Just recently, we appeared at the Senate Public Accounts Committee, and it was one of the best that we gave out all that we had. We were very accountable.
“We are public servants. People can throw stones at us at any time. Once you are a public servant, you should be open for criticism, but at the right time you address some of those things. When you occupy a position like this, detractors employ all methods of distraction to derail you from your mandate. So, once you’re a leader, there are disruptors who want to stop you, but you should be able to be a leader that will be strong.
“And I’ve also said to people, if you have something against me or I against the commission, you don’t need to go to the media. There are channels. If you can’t bring it to me, Take it to the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation. Send it to wherever. It’s childish for somebody to go to the media when you have an axe to grind with the Commission.”
In his remarks, the President of Zawan Old Students Association, Hon. Danlami Awaje, lauded Pam for the innovations he introduced to the commission.
“You will leave a landmark that will take the person coming after you a lot of effort and zeal to be able to sustain, if can’t be able to surpass you,” Awaje added.