I want to run pilgrimage schools that will be affordable to ordinary Nigerian without compromising in quality—- NCPC Boss
The Newsjet editor, Titus Agbo recently interviewed the new Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Reverend Tor Uja during which he bare his mind on his vision and tall dream for the Christian body. Below are the excerpts from the 30-minute encounter with him in his sparsely furnished Abuja office.
Ques: What is your vision for NCPC?
Ans: My vision for NCPC is to create an environment in which
pilgrimage will run itself without the financial support of government. I would like the Christian community to own pilgrimage and own NCPC. Pilgrimage should be a natural course that Christian should prepare for it and be able to afford it. So apart from trying to make it cheap enough I would like us to be part of the economic revolution of Nigeria that will position the church in a manner that they can undertake pilgrimage without sponsorship from government
Ques:: Don’t you think this is a tall order?
Ans:: We are working towards it, I am trying to set up structures that would make
NCPC financially independent, structurally effective and with church and community integrated. I want a situation where people who don’t have a means as a community no matter the number of people can come together and travel to Israel or to Jerusalem and be free to discuss their issues and pray together and come back healthier and in a better position. Why do I believe it is possible? In Genesis chapter 9 when the people set out to build the tower of Babel God said that if they are together it is possible. I believe it is possible once you can create income generating and people mobilizing instruments. If people are mobilized they have the funds to put into the pilgrimage, if the financial generation structure works and the basic things we do can be taken care of without resorting to government
Q: How do you intend to achieve this?
Ans;: We have set up a programme of setting up what we call Pilgrim Heritage Farm and Conference centre; it is going to have three arms. To have a major farm in the middle and in the farm we will have both livestock and
fruits in terms of things like tomatoes, onions and all that and they will be programmed for export, they are a deliberate programme not just for feeding Nigerians but also for earning foreign exchange to the commission. And on one side of it there will also the Heritage conference
centre and by the grace of God with hotels built around it that will be used not only by us but others can also come and use it; especially churches and
social groups. The farm will be in the middle and on the other side will be a
secondary school, Pilgrim’s Secondary School.
Q: The school you are building is it supposed to be income generating or for charity?
Ans: You cannot publicly say a school should be income generating
because by law a school is supposed to be a social service. But we know we have to pay teachers, develop infrastructure and we have to do some other things. We will make it a missionary oriented school and one of the
> targets of the school would be that every student and teacher that ever comes to that school must go to Jerusalem on pilgrim as a principle jointly funded by
both the pilgrim and the establishment so that they are not just in a pilgrimage
school but that they also have the experience of doing that; focus would be the youths and the teacher.
Ques: Both the school and the parents, right?
Ans:Yes, both the school and the parent. Our intention is that children going on
pilgrimage should be at least accompanied by one parent both to ensure that the
> parents experience it and their children also over sight of
their parent and also for security for anybody that may want to jump away.
Q: How are you going to raise the initial funding for this?
Ans: The first thing we are doing now is the land acquisition and the FCT Minister has promised to help us with land and the FCT minister has been of great help to this commission. When this commission started the Honourable Minister was then the deputy chairman of the Hajj commission. Even while in office he gave
us free accommodation in the Hajj commission’s office to start our own commission and we were there for over two years without paying a dime and by that it gave us a lot of stability. And we have another property that we have not yet developed, he helped us to get it because the ….government at the time gave them a land. And we requested that we don’t seem to have a land within the FCT, so that land was given to us, it is very close to Akwa Ibom house and that is where I am coming from now because we are working to get it functional in the next couple of months. We intend to also set up a Christian Pilgrim bookshop where we will bring books and souvenirs from Israel and make them available here for those who couldn’t buy it in Israel because of excess luggage or shortage of fund and who can buy it here in naira. And also for those who may not have been to Israel but can have some of these materials from Israel. It would be a profit oriented business.
Q: What size and type of land are you looking for?
Ans: We have set up a seven man working committee with the mandate of getting that land for us by July and we asked them to look for not less than 1,000 hectares and not more than 3,000hectares. And in their engagement, FCT
told them it is difficult to get such size of land in one place and they have asked us whether we can take it in bits maybe 200hectares there and 300hectares here
until we get there but our target is not more than 3,000hectares and not less
Ques: Recently some groups came up and said the incumbent president should start preparing his things to start campaign for 2019 election. Do you subscribe to this thought?
Ans: I would like Nigerian politics to move away from the elections only mentality. Elections are only one aspects of democracy but sometimes Nigerian politicians make it look like it is the only thing about democracy. I think when somebody is elected into office; he should be relieved of the pressure of the next election
and be given the chance to fulfil his ideas and his promises to the people. I think our President is a disciplined man, he is a focused man and he is a determined man. Nigerians should kindly remove distractions from him and allow
him to do the things he has set out to do. I am glad that Mr President said he
is not under any pressure on how he is going out to put infrastructure for the
next election; all the structures he is putting together are for the recovery
of the Nigerian economy and the building of the nation as a holistic entity
that would be important to the affairs of our global economy and I support that
philosophy. Elections will come when they will come.
Ques: With the plans you have in place, you know human capital is very important. What is your plan to bring staff to key into these ambitions of yours?
Ans: Two things I need; first I would like the federal government to give me
financial and structural support for 5years and in 5years NCPC will pay its
dividend over. And 5years of support, 5years of funding,5years in supporting
us to build our infrastructure and strengthen our institution and demography in
the commission. Five years would be enough that we will make Nigeria proud of
having a body like NCPC. We intend that apart from making pilgrimage cost
effective, in the next two years we will make Nigeria a global pilgrimage destination. We want Christians all over the world to come and experience some of the movements of God in this country and we have a lot of great things going on in this country, we don’t have to wait for people to die to go and visit their grave as pilgrim sites. We need to make pilgrimage location especially when some of the key people are still around; Pastor Kumuyi of Deeper Life Bible Church, E.A Adeboye of Redeemed Christian Church of God and Olukoya Mountain of Fire, Paul Eneche Dunamis and the different churches in this country, the Catholic churches, the Anglican Churches they are teeming of virtues, many of them have been there for decades but one needs to participate in what they are doing. I went to Europe about two months ago, I went to visit what they call orthodox patriarchates and globally the patriarchates of the orthodox church has span global locations; one in Europe, one in America, the one in the Middle East I think covers Africa. And I went to their head quarters where their global head who is like a Pope of the orthodox church and I met with him and I had meeting with him and the entire Patriarchates
head quarters is a small location; their church seats probably 200 people or less. And the management is proud of being around and of being a Patriarch and having a global patriarchates. But in Nigeria any church no matter its building that has 200 people, is a small church. But many of these churches like Living Faith, Redeemed, Deeper Life, Mountain of Fire, where they hold their meetings, some of them in millions, there is a time you can close Lagos because of some of their meetings. Sometimes in December you cannot have a place to park and it takes extra hours to get from here to Lagos. And therefore I believe the time has come for us Nigerians to be proud about the move of God that is going on in our generation, we need to celebrate it. No nation on earth has what we have.
Ques: You said you need government support for 5years, how much are you looking at to actualise this dream?
Ans: I don’t want to give a figure on it. We are going to take pilgrimage to the people where they are, to the churches and to the people and therefore we have segmented the country into what we call Metropolitan zones, eight metropolitan zones within the big, populous and economically viable cities of Nigeria, which are surrounded by communities that can enable pilgrimage to information these metropolitan zones which include Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Akwa, Gombe, Sokoto, Abuja and Asaba.One of the things we are doing is that we are setting up a policy that would make it difficult or impossible for somebody to travel from a
state that is not his own state because we have discovered that people travel to
other states to go on pilgrimage and then they abscond in the name of that state. And so we want people to travel from their state, let there be a guarantee from
their people that they will go and come back. It is like a canon, if people are to go, to a large extent, must be people from an area. Now the only other areas where we do exemptions is that we are going to have different kinds of pilgrimages from this year. We are going to have pilgrimage for women, we are going to have pilgrimage for pastors only, we are going to have pilgrimage for farmers
and we are going to have pilgrimage for families which would be during Christmas and that one a man travelling with his wife and children it is expected that he is going to come back and so they allow those ones to travel from anywhere.
Ques: Was that the norm?
Ans:No.Not at all.
Ques: Is it an innovation?
Ans:Yes. And also the executives.