President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a special exchange rate for this year’s Christian pilgrimage to Israel.

The Executive Secretary, the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, Mr. John Kennedy-Opara, disclosed this to State House correspondents shortly after briefing the President of the commission’s activities inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Kennedy-Opara said Buhari has approved the rate of N160 to $1 for those who will take part in the exercise.

He said, “The President has approved $1 to N160 for the conventional exchange rate for this pilgrimage operation and he also agreed that he will continue to encourage us particularly as we drive to ensure self-sustenance, to make sure that the pilgrims are able to pay for the pilgrimages after removing government sponsorship.

“This is a journey and we are sure that we are going to succeed. So the President was very happy with the entire process.

“We are praying that God will help us to be a source of strength to Mr. President, so that the Federal government and states will spend the necessary resources on other things while the pilgrimage is self-funding as time goes on.”

Kennedy-Opara said the President was happy with commission after his presentation.

He said the commission was already running four different kinds of pilgrimages in one year.

He listed them to include Easter pilgrimage; the youth pilgrimage tagged “Operation catch them young”; the family pilgrimage and the main pilgrimage.

He said those going to Israel for the 11 days trip will pay N379,840, while the youth pilgrimage will cost N357,000.

“The beauty of what we are doing is that we have added skill acquisition. In other words, people who go on pilgrimage can undergo the skill acquisition programme organised by the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission and Ministry of Agriculture, Israel to train our people in the area of agriculture.

“We are also introducing the pilgrimage pilot lottery scheme that will enable people who are lucky to be able to go on this trip without much dependence on the state and the Federal Government,” he added.

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