President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N160 to $1 exchange rate for the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission’s (NCPC) operations.
The commission’s Executive Secretary, John Keneddy-Opara, told State House correspondents after briefing Buhari on the commission’s activities at the State House, Abuja.
He said: “As you are aware, he has approved $1 to N160 for the conventional exchange rate for this pilgrimage operation and he also agreed that he will continue to encourage us, particularly as we drive to ensure self-sustenance, to make sure that the pilgrims are able to pay for the pilgrimages by removing government sponsorship.
“This is a journey and we are sure that we are going to succeed. So, he was very happy with the entire process. We are praying that God will help us to be a source of strength to Mr. President, so that the Federal Government and states will spend the necessary resources on other things while the pilgrimage is self-funding as time goes on.
“We are already running four pilgrimages in one year. The first is the Easter pilgrimage, which has passed, the Youth Pilgrimage which we termed operation catch them young, the family pilgrimage and the overall pilgrimage. For those going to Israel for the 11 days trip, it is N379,840 and for the youth pilgrimage, it is going to cost N357,000.”
Nigerians on pilgrimage, he noted, can now undergo skill acquisition programme organised by the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission and Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture, towards training them in the area of agriculture.
He added: “We are introducing the pilgrimage pilot lottery scheme that will enable people who are lucky to be able to go on this trip without much dependence on the state and the Federal Government.”
He said he was in the State House to brief the President on the activities of the commission.
“I came to brief the President on the activities of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission. Earlier, my colleague, the Chairman of Hajj Commission had come to brief him.
“I had to tell him where we are and how we started the commission and where we are today and our prayers. I want to say that the President was very happy with the commission and he said the commission has done very well.”