22nd June, 2010
The Abia Government has spent more than N400 million on the sponsorship ofÂ 1,235 pilgrims to Jerusalem in the last three years.
TheÂ Secretary to the State Government, Mr Donatus Okorie, said this on Monday in Umuahia at a thanksgiving service forÂ the 2007, 2008 and 2009 contingents to Jerusalem.
Okorie, who disclosed that government was spending aboutÂ N400,000 on a pilgrim, said the sponsorship would continue even in the face ofÂ dwindling resources.
He reiteratedÂ government’sÂ determination to increase the number ofÂ pilgrims in order toÂ improve the spiritual lives ofÂ people.
Earlier, the Chairman ofÂ Association ofÂ Jerusalem Pilgrims in the state, Rev. Ndeke Dimanochie, hadÂ urged the Christian Pilgrims Board to consider the plight ofÂ those who had been applying without successÂ in the last 10Â years.
He regretted that the number ofÂ pilgrims being sponsored by the state governmentÂ had been dropping on yearly basis.
Also speaking, Gov. Theodore Orji saidÂ sponsorship ofÂ pilgrims would now be a joint effort ofÂ local and state governments in order to increase the number of contingent.
He, however, said this year’sÂ exercise may witness a reductionÂ in the number ofÂ pilgrims due to the lean finances of the state.