The Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde has urged all Christians embarking on holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to be focused and conduct themselves as worthy ambassadors of the state and the country.
Represented by his Executive Assistant on Administration and General Services, Rev. Idowu Ogedengbe; Makinde gave the admonition in an address to Christians on Tuesday at the premises of Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board (Christian Wing).
Makinde who expressed gratitude to God for the relative peace and religious harmony that is being experienced, urged the pilgrims to pray for sustainable peace as residents will elect various leaders in the 2023 general elections.
In his words: “It gives me great pleasure to address you as the contingent from Oyo State on Holy Pilgrimage to Jordan and Jerusalem in the land of Israel. This journey ought to have taken place since year 2021 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it has to be delayed till now.
“On behalf of His Excellency, let me use this opportunity to first and foremost commend you all our distinguished pilgrims and delegates for your patience all this while, for remaining steadfast in your resolve to still proceed on this pilgrimage and for keeping faith with the Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board as Self Sponsored Pilgrims.
“We are thankful to God that we are alive today, despite all the challenges that we have been through since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, to witness the eventual airlifting of our pilgrims from Oyo State by the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC).
“Indeed, in God’s time, He has made everything beautiful. We give all the glory to the Lord.
“For us as Christians, we embark on Holy Pilgrimage in order to see, feel, touch and experience the reality of the historical places where our favourite Bible characters trod, sites and monuments that we have only had the opportunity to read about in stories and writings of the Bible.
“Holy Pilgrimage provides us with the opportunity to connect with the physical manifestations of our faith, to strengthen our belief in God as we walk where our Lord Jesus Christ walked over two thousand years ago.
“It affords us the opportunity to pray to God Almighty and fellowship with other pilgrims with great joy and exhilaration.
“As you embark on this journey, His Excellency wants me to remind you that your trip is not just another travelling, rather it is one with a spiritual purpose. In that regard, He has asked me to implore you to avoid all distractions and conduct yourselves as worthy ambassadors of Oyo State and indeed our nation Nigeria.
“Please ensure that you abide by the rules and guidelines given by the management team for this tour. Our desire is to have every member of the team return back to Oyo State with none missing in the course of this journey.
“His Excellency remains grateful to God for the relative peace and religious harmony that we are enjoying in the state but still wants you to please remember our state in your prayers while in the Holy Land.
“As you all know, we will be going to the polls again in year 2023 to vote and elect our leaders. We want God to make the planning and final conduct of the elections to be peaceful without rancour and any form of violence, banditry or terrorism.
“As we are enjoined to pray for those in authority in 1 Timothy 2, please also remember to pray for our Governor. That God will continue to crown him with wisdom and guidance as he steers the ship of the present administration. That by reason of many of the good works that he has started in the state, he will be given another opportunity to complete them.
“It is important to also remind you that as new cases of COVID-19 infections are being reported in some states lately by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), it is important that you observe all the necessary protocols towards the prevention of the disease.
“Thankfully, we don’t have any new case in Oyo State and our earnest expectation to God is that none of you will come down with any infection as you embark on this pilgrimage.
“Our prayer is that God will grant you journey mercies as you go to Lagos now and all through your flight to Jerusalem and back to Ibadan. May the Lord make your pilgrimage an experience to remember for a lifetime.
“God bless you, God bless Oyo State and God bless our nation Nigeria”, he concluded.