Reactions have continued to trail the newly constituted board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) over one week after their appointments were made public by the Federal Government.
Many have argued about the constitutionality of the government’s continued investment in religious matters, which they say is recognised by the constitution as a private matter for the individual devotees.
Also, some have based their argument on the back of Nigeria’s fallen revenue to the government; asking for the economic contribution of pilgrimage either as Christians or Muslims to the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP).
“President Bola Tinubu approval of the appointment of nine individuals to the board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) is unconstitutional. It is a clear violation of Section 10 of the Nigeria Construction which is to the effect that Nigeria is a secular State,’ malcolm omirhobo @Malcolminfiniti tweeted on X.
Omirhobo, who is a lawyer, stated that Nigeria must stop wasting her time and resources on religion at this critical time.
Similarly, another X user Ajuju @ajuju20@5 in responding to @MalcolmInfiniti said, “It’s better you don’t quote constitution because Naija don’t have any again.”
“You cannot be more correct Sir. These illegal agencies must go. Yes, ILLEGAL. The act establishing them are null & void. Any serious govt must do the needful. It’s unconstitutional,” Evolution @onyex tweeted in response to @MalcolmInfiniti
Another user known as NnaGin @whiskynnagin, said that there is no basis to say there’s a constitution in Nigeria.
“The Barr it’s futile mentioning constitution, let me ask, should there not be a referendum for any country made up of so many tribes & religions or at worst all Nations presentation of an acceptable constitution to accord such legitimacy?”
However, Bamidele, another X user @KingsDelex took a contrary view on the continued government involvement in annual pilgrimage by Nigerians.
He said: “Hello high esteemed fellow…. Your submission on “Govt wasting time and resources on religion” is belittling. Please refrain……Religion is not the problem of Nigeria state though its been used as tool for manipulations doesn’t make it bad in itself.”
However, Gbenga Osinaike, publisher, Church Times, responding to BusinessDay inquiries on the merit of the appointees, shared malcolm omirhobo sentiment on religion being a private matter.
“By the way pilgrimage is for Church people so putting the leader of CAN in Lagos to position of secretary is a good move.
“My main concern however, is that it’s time government stayed away from pilgrimage issue.
“It should be a private concern. It is not right to spend public funds on the spiritual exercise of some people,” Osinaike said.
According to him, government can create an enabling environment for pilgrims; however, the era of sponsoring people to Jerusalem should be over by now.
He said further that private participation in pilgrimage should be encouraged, while rich individuals can also sponsor people on pilgrimages.
“But using government money for anything pilgrimage is a no for me. If the NCPC is properly run it won’t have to depend on government for funding,” he said.
Speaking to the merit of Adegbite’s appointment as NCPC secretary, Osinaike said that being the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Lagos will be a great boost to the NCPC.
“It will make the operations of the NCPC smooth because he is going to bring to bear on the commission his exposure to the church world.
“It is not unexpected. Bishop Adegbite played a critical role in ensuring the success of President Tinubu at the polls. So, it is not unusual for him to be given the appointment as the secretary of the NCPC,” Osinaike said.
But, in a twist of opinion on the appointment, Wole Olarinde, publisher of Christian Benefits Magazine, simply said; “It’s in order in terms of political settlement.”
But, Gracious Akintayo, publisher, Providence News, disagreed with Olarinde’s position. “I strongly believe Adegbite’s recent appointment is well deserved and pointer in the right direction.”
According to Akintayo, the appointment is a testimony and challenge to the Christian community on commitment and loyalty.
He said further that Adegbite is a well tested and trusted Christian leader for such an enviable appointment.
“The appointment should not be seen from political angle as a reward, but a testimony and challenge for trustworthy, faithfulness and committed to a course wholeheartedly.
“Moreover, who could have been better in that position than a hearted Christian and non-biased-denominational Christian leader like him,” Akintayo asked.
Speaking further on the merit of the appointment, Akintayo said; “Adegbite is a respected minister and leader of Methodist denomination, yet he has build bridges, identifying, associating, relating and mingling with every other church denomination, Christian leaders and ministers without limitation and barriers. Moreso, he’s a Christian torchbearer in this generation,” he said.
The publisher of Providence News told BusinessDay that Adegbite will take NCPC to a new and higher level, with the support of the Nigerian churches, Christian leaders and other christian stakeholders.
Ayodeji Ayopo, pastor and media consultant told BusinessDay that the appointment should also serve as a platform for Christian leaders to ensure that the NCPC is properly managed in line with the doctrines and practices of the Christian faith.
“I believe the appointment is a welcome development for the Christian body. We have had situations in the past that a clergy was not appointed into the position.
“I believe, with Bishop Adegbite’s appointment, CAN and other Christian organisations can drive the organisation holistically as it should be,” Ayopo said.
Recall that the government in a State House release signed by Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), announced the names of persons appointed by President Bola Tinubu into the board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC).
According to the statement, the board members whose appointment was with immediate effect are:
1. Aloche Adole – Chairman
2. Stephen Adegbite – Secretary
3. Omowumi Olubunmi Ogunlola – Member, South West
4. Clement Alobu Nweke – Member, South East
5. Weli Wosu – Member, South South
6. Joseph Haruna Mamman – Member, North West
7. Toma Hamidu Ragnjiya – Member, North East
8. Simon Abu Samson Dolly – Member, North Central, and
9. Raphael Benjamin Nwankwo – representative, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).