Sunday, October 19, 2014 8:54 am
If you thought Nigeria had the release of the 219 Chibok schoolgirls sealed up in Friday’s ceasefire agreement with Danladi Ahmadu, Boko Haram’s self-styled secretary-general, President Goodluck Jonathan has thrown another twist into the whole matter.
In a message to Nigeria’s intending Christian Pilgrims, he urged them to pray not just for a peaceful, successful conduct of the 2015 election, but also the safe return of the abducted Chibok girls.
Danladi Ahmadu had said on VOA that the Chibok girls were well and safe.
Jonathan, who was represented by the President of the Senate, David Mark, made the prayer call on Saturday in Abuja at the inauguration of the 2014 Christian Pilgrimage.
The occasion coincided with the transportation of the first batch of 250 Christian pilgrims from the Federal Capital Territory who would be visiting Israel, Greece and Rome.
He said that Christians should not forget that the main essence of pilgrimage was to pray and be spiritually reborn in order to live better lives and to affect the lives of the people around them positively.
“Do not forget the significance of pilgrimage, we need a rebirth and this rebirth must first begin with us for true transformation.
“Let us all pray for the safe release of the Chibok girls and let us also pray for the peaceful conduct of the 2015 general elections,’’ he said.
The president expressed optimism that the truce reached between the government and Boko Haram would truly lead to lasting peace in the country.
He assured Nigerians that insecurity would not derail the Transformation Agenda from actualising its purpose, stressing that God himself was taking the lead in the fight against insecurity.
Jonathan urged Christians not to view the pilgrimage as an avenue for doing business but should maintain a clean sheet without absconding as it had been recorded over the last few years.
In his remark, Executive Secretary of the National Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) John Kennedy Okpara, said that the government of Israel commended Nigeria for having a good record of no absconding pilgrims in the last few years.
He expressed gratitude to God and the government for the support which the commission had received in conducting a successful pilgrimage.
He expressed the hope that upon their return, the pilgrims would have become spiritually re-dedicated to God and would impart the good thing they had learnt to people around them.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Board of NCPC and Primate of the Anglican Church, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, urged all contractors and handlers to treat the pilgrims with respect.
“Pilgrims must also endeavour to be their brothers’ keeper during this pilgrimage; do not resist corrections, stay together as one,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 30,000 pilgrims are targeted for the pilgrimage