Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed has said that the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan will continue to show restraint, tolerance and accommodation despite the antics of some leaders who fan the embers of sentiment. Speaking at the weekend when the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), Mr. John Kennedy Opara led members of the Commission to pay him a courtesy call at his Area 11 office in Abuja, the Minister stated that President Jonathan has demonstrated that he is a leader for Nigeria and for Africa, a leader who has totally shunned sentiment by giving opportunity to Nigerians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Senator Mohammed stressed that no matter the level of provocation and sentiment by some leaders from different parts of the country, the President and lieutenants would not join issues with them. “We will continue to exercise restraint so that we don’t join issues that would put us apart. Rather we will continue to tolerate and accommodate so that Nigeria will be a better place for everybody,” he declared.
He stated further: “With our humility and modesty, we don’t join issues with leaders but sometimes we are really put aback to see statements and insinuations coming out from leaders who have benefitted seriously from this country; who have benefitted from the peace and tranquility of this country doing or saying things that will put us on a collision course; exacerbating the mistrust and suspicion within the polity is very unfortunate”.
The Minister urged Nigerians to shun sentiments of religion and tribe so that the country could move forward and overcome her challenges.
Earlier, the NCPC Executive Secretary had explained that he was visiting the Minister with his Federal Commissioners and some Christian clergymen to appreciate him as part of the sensitization for this year’s Christian pilgrimage to Israel and Rome. He described Senator Mohammed as a detribalized leader devoid of religious sentiment who God has brought to play important roles as a change agent. According to him, the Minister has done a lot to sanitize and develop the Federal Capital Territory.
Mr. Opara emphasized: “I have over the years carefully noted the passion with which you have been conducting your official duties. It is on record that as a Senator, you were the leading voice to then Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to do the needful and avert total collapse of governance. Today, Nigeria is moving forward because of that spirited effort.”
NCPC Scribe said he has no iota of doubt in his mind that the Minister has distinguished himself as a symbol of the present Administration’s Transformation Agenda. He further praised him as “a bridge builder and a believer in one Nigeria; a man who has taken to heart all Nigerians both Muslim and Christian alike.” He told the Minister, “Your commitment to the unity of this great nation has made you worthy of note by the people of Nigeria.”
Mr. Opara commended the Minister for his encouragement and support to the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission stressing that his efforts had helped in no small way in the success recorded in the pilgrimage operation over the years.
Mr. Opara thanked him for allocating a prime land for the commission, notwithstanding the fact that he is a Muslim. He pledged to continue to pray for him
He disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan has approved that the US Dollar should be given to both Muslim and Christian pilgrims at the rate of one Dollar to N150. He said the gesture has reduced the cost of pilgrimage package to N367,540 per pilgrim for those travelling to Israel while those travelling to Rome would similarly pay a reduced price of N460,093 for eleven days. In addition to that, he said the President has signed a bilateral air service agreement between Nigeria and the state of Israel which will enable pilgrims fly directly from Abuja to Israel without any hitch.
Opara said that FCT has been allocated 2000 slots for this year’s Christian pilgrimage operation and called on wealthy residents of the Territory to help those who are spiritually rich but materially poor to be able to perform the pilgrimage to Israel.
In her remarks, the FCT Minister of State, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide said Senator Mohammed’s cosmopolitan and unbiased approach is a queue from the President who has proven himself as a leader for all irrespective of tribe. She lent her voice to the call for more Christian pilgrim slots for FCT stressing that Abuja is a miniature Nigeria and as such pilgrims of the territory come from all over Nigeria.