Akin Akande, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan at the weekend charged Nigerians going on pilgrimage to Israel, Rome and Greece to avoid crimes and criminal activities while urging them to devote all their time to praying for the nation, her leaders and Nigerians.
President Jonathan, who was represented by the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, made this plea at the flag-off ceremony for the October/December Pilgrimage to Israel, Rome and Greece in Abuja, enjoined the pilgrims “to remain good ambassadors of our country, Nigeria.
Twenty five Nigerian pickpockets were arrested by the authorities during the recently concluded pilgrimage to Mecca.
The President stated: “In addition to exemplary conduct and high sense of patriotism, let there be no single incidence of absconding during the pilgrimage.
“While in the Holy land, devote all the time to pray for Nigeria, her leaders and Nigerians. I urge you to say special prayers for the unity, peace, love, security and progress of our nation.
“Our country is facing challenges from political, economic to security. We need a true exodus from these challenges in order to sincerely work towards the unity, stability and progress of our nation.
“The current challenges call for collective and proper management by every Nigerian. I have no doubt we will overcome our present challenges; witness the strengthening if our co-existence and deepen our democrat, if you sincerely pray while on this Holy pilgrimage,” he further counselled.
He urged the pilgrims to embark on a proper soul-searching and return to the country a better people, saying: “We are a country of multiple ethnic background, religious, political, social affiliations and ideologies but we remain as one family before God.
“Pilgrimages like these act as our binding factor, a unanimous tool and language which the cross-section of our people must always relate and identify with, President Jonathan stressed.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, John Kennedy Opara, had disclosed that President Jonathan and no fewer than 19 state governors would participate in the October/December pilgrimage to Israel, Rome and Greece.
He further said that about 30, 000 pilgrims will be participating in the Holy trip.