The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Mr John-Kennedy Opara, has said that the commission would sponsor more Nigerian pilgrims in 2016 through its newly introduced “Win a Trip to Israel” Lottery Scheme.
Opara made this known at the forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that the lottery scheme was designed to give opportunity to Christians who are not financially buoyant to sponsor themselves since state governments had virtually withdrawn the sponsorship of pilgrimage.
The executive secretary said that the scheme was to also help the commission to sustain its activities as well as give opportunity to more intending pilgrims at no cost to both federal and state governments.
According to him, the idea of the lottery was drawn from the Bible in Acts 1, verse 26 when lots were cast to replace one of Jesus’ disciples at that time.
“When we know that we are working under limited resources, we have to find a way to be able to carry on with our operations. So, we introduced this programme called `Win-a-Trip-to-Israel’.
“The whole idea is that every Christian in Nigeria can buy the ticket and the pool of what we generate is put together and the people are given the privilege and opportunity to undertake in the trip.
“About 50 per cent of it is used in sponsoring those who have taken part in the lottery process.
“So, it is a very complete scheme which I believe that if Christians can key into it, it will help us to a large extent to run a pilgrimage that is self-sustaining, self-funding without any recourse to the states or federal government.’’
Opara said the cost of the ticket would be N500 per ticket, adding that people could buy as many tickets as they wanted as well as buy for people from their constituencies and churches.
He said that the draw would be done in a transparent manner that participants would be satisfied with, adding that the commission was determined to lead for others to follow.
According to him, the commission has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with three operators based in three geo-political zones.
The executive secretary gave an assurance that the lottery was different from other lotteries, which he described as “winner takes all”, adding that money realised from tickets sold would be used to sponsor thousands of people.
“The underground work is going on; the tickets are being produced and all the foundations are being laid.
“The two operators of this scheme are already working in various states where they are covering, to lay the foundation for the final launch which we are going to fix after the Feb. 23 summit,’’ he said. (NAN)