AK Airport to airlift Christian Pilgrims to Rome, Greece
Akwa Ibom International Airport (AKIA) has been approved to airlift Christian pilgrims from four States of the federation, to Rome and Greece for pilgrimage this year.
The Director-General and Executive Secretary of Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), Abuja, Mr. John Kennedy Opara who announced this Wednesday when he paid a courtesy visit to the Governor, Chief Godswill O. Akpabio at Governor's Lodge, Uyo, said the states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Enugu.
Mr. Opara who commended the Governor for building a beautiful airport said the commission decided to use the Akwa Ibom airport to airlift Christians to Rome and Greece due to its international standards.
The DG said he had undertaken trips to Rome and Greece to seal arrangements with their authorities for airlifting of pilgrims to see the tourist sites and some paths trodden by Jesus Christ while on earth.
He stated that the airlifting of the first batch of Christian pilgrims from Nigeria to Israel, through the Akwa Ibom International Airport will commence on November 20, this year depending on the state to pay first while the exercise would be completed in December this year.
While appealing to the Governor to increase the number from 1,000 to 1,500 pilgrims this year, he appealed to him to encourage local chairman and interested persons to sponsor credible Christians to the Holy Land, hinting that the commission would soon open a zonal office in Bayelsa State.
Mr. Opara who was accompanied by Rev. (Dr.) Solomon Zim Denye, a Federal Commissioner representing South East and Rev. Robinson E. Oritsuwa, a Federal Commissioner representing South-South disclosed that a National Retreat for state chairmen and members of pilgrim welfare boards in the 36 states in the Country would be held in Uyo between September 16-17, 2011.
Governor Akpabio thanked the Director-General and other officers of the commission for the visit and for airlifting Christian pilgrims from Akwa Ibom International Airport to Israel thus helping to exposing the airport to the world.
''It would be recalled that through you and Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission, Akwa Ibom International Airport was exposed to the rest of the world. I recalled too last year when a white airport from Israel landed on the soil of Akwa Ibom'', Akpabio recounted.
Chief Akpabio announced that he and his wife would join Akwa Ibom team to perform pilgrimage in Israel this year pledged to liaise with the state welfare board to increase the number of pilgrims for this year's pilgrimage.
He commended the commission for its selection method to check defection by people and assured that pilgrims using the airport won't regret as the state government was prepared to provide more facilities there.
Akpabio described the job of the commission as being crucial to national development and stressed the need for Nigerians to inculcate in their children moral values and authorities to encourage the teaching of Religious Knowledge to reconnect the people to God.
The Governor used the occasion to debunk that the view that it was the duty of government to eradicate crimes, saying ''Government could only minimize crimes. Forget about the pockets of crimes here and there. At appropriate time, criminality must be a thing of the past. Thank God we are praying and no one knows what would happened if we were not praying. You have heard about earthquake and tsunami in Asian Countries, but God is faithful to us that such natural disasters are not seen here''.