By Funmilayo Okunade
The Ekiti State Government has advocated more private sponsorship of pilgrims to Mecca and Jerusalem, following government’s withdrawal from bankrolling the activity, according to remarks by the Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi.
Speaking on Tuesday, at a meeting with members of the State Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, led by its Chairman, Alhaji Babatunde Onipede, in Ado-Ekiti, Egbeyemi noted that both the federal and state governments had stopped sponsoring pilgrims on holy pilgrimages, to save funds for development purposes.
He told the board members, who visited him to familiarise themselves with his office, which supervises the Board in the state, that individuals interested in performing pilgrimage should do so through private savings, in view of the government’s withdrawal of sponsorship.
“Both the Federal Government and the State Government have said they will not spend their money on pilgrimages again, and that is why there was no budgetary allocation to it.
“Anybody wishing to perform his religious obligation of going to the Holy Lands must do so with his own personal savings, and that was what I told the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) when their executives made a similar request, because we must be fair to all,” Egbeyemi said.
The deputy governor, however, said that the board’s demand for office furniture and utility vehicles were legitimate and would be looked into accordingly, stressing that the state government was ready to assist the board in the performance of its statutory duties.
Egbeyemi also expressed satisfaction with the peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in the state, which made them to live together as brothers and sisters.
Speaking earlier, Onipede expressed gratitude to Gov. Kayode Fayemi and the deputy governor, for finding him and other members of the board worthy of being appointed to serve.
Onipede revealed that the board was not run properly during the last administration, hence the need to draw the attention of the present administration to the situation for assistance.
“It was not functioning as a board during the Fayose administration; it was just lying fallow there and was not run like a board.
“In Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, we don’t have utility vehicles. Our utility vehicle in Saudi Arabia has been grounded since 2018,” he said.
Onipede said the board also needed furniture and more funds for the smooth running of the office, for quality service delivery.