Nigeria, a tiger getting ready for battle – Uja

The executive secretary, Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), Rev. Uja Tor Uja, has described Nigeria as a young lion that is waking up from sleep, a tiger that is getting ready for battle, an elephant that can’t be conquered. He stated this recently when airlines and ground handlers bidded for this year’s Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land at the commission’s corporate headquarters in Abuja. ADOYI M. ABA was there.

Open bidding

We want to make the fairness doctrine to be our life style, to be the yardstick to which we will get things done. We believe Nigeria is on the right path to get things done properly and having an organised process, especially procurement and all the things we do. This has been long coming. We advertised it on social media and the newspapers. We invited all the stakeholders to be present. Everything has been done in the public eye. And we believe that every other process leading to the final award of contract will also be done in the public eye. Whatever it will take we will be fair to everybody who is qualified. You don’t need to lobby. Nobody will need to know anybody. All you have to do is to get your act correct. And you will be correct in the procurement process.


We need to provide and develop pilgrimage infrastructure in such a manner that we will do the pilgrimage without stress and pressure. These infrastructure include buildings, auditorium, public address system, equipment vehicles, etc. We need pilgrimage infrastructure that will help us provide for better organisation. Better management of pilgrimage and improved interaction among stakeholders of pilgrimage. It is in that vein that NCPC has commenced the construction of a 1, 000-seater auditorium, which we hope will be ready under-one year. If we don’t complete it before the end of the year, we shall be there early next year. All the members of company of states have been there for assessment of the ground since we started and as we move on. Also, very soon we are going to commence work on our pilgrims’ camp where we will focus on training, orientation, fellowship, planning, interaction and relaxation. The camp will also have a session we call mini Israel, where people who may not travel to Israel and who may not be available to travel can still have access to the basic things, especially those that are Biblical that we have in Israel.

Proudly Nigerian

Of course, in some cases, it may be a scintillating element that may warrant people to go and see them on the ground in Israel. We have set out to develop pilgrimage and to make it more fluent and enjoyable and result-oriented, both spiritually and developmentally. 2018 pilgrimage took off a bit late, but went successfully and was adjudged the best pilgrimage NCPC has organised in its lifetime. The indices, timeliness of everything, quality of the aircraft, beauty of the services, movement to sights, both spiritual and development matters and the ease with which we went. For the third year running, we have had one hundred per cent return in terms of health that nobody has died while on pilgrimage. We intend to surpass that record. People will go and come back healthier and invest in their country. Invest in Nigeria. Make it in Nigeria. Make it for Nigeria. Be proud of Nigeria. Yes, Nigeria has limitations here and there, but we are an involving great nation. We are a young lion that is waking up from sleep, an elephant that cannot be conquered – a tiger that is getting ready for battle.

Nigeria developing

In a few years, Nigeria is going to be the song of the whole world, because we are going in the right direction. We are, perhaps, the only country in the world that can repute to be a country with a future. Most countries in the world have not only reached their zenith, but are also coming down. But Nigeria is still evolving, moving from point to point, glory to glory. I come from a village that doesn’t appear to be on any map, but I am proud of my heritage. Therefore, Nigerians should make a stake in this country so that when the history of the country is being written, their names will be mentioned.

In the course of my pilgrimage, I am gathering books, biographies and autobiographies, because I am looking for people who did things for their countries. Those who made sacrifices to make their nation what they are, who labored in Israel to turn the arid region into an enterprising nation. Who labored in known and unknown areas to bring the nation into great repute today? Those Nigerians who in the midst of problems choose to stay and invest so that tomorrow a story will be told of how they contributed in the shaping and making of our country. I believe we will get there.

Procurement Act

Years ago, there was no procurement law and people did things anyhow they wanted. However, one of our presidents traveled somewhere and discovered that there was more organised programme for the procurement of goods and services and he was told that there was a procurement law. He got the law and Nigerianised it. Now, we have the Public Procurement Act that guides the procurement of anything that has public funds attached to it. NCPC is not a very big physical organisation, but in the past couple of years, we have recorded one hundred per cent compliance to the Procurement Act. That Act enables us to demonstrate who we are, that we possess a fairness doctrine. Let us possess the fairness doctrine that will build fairness around us, to compete fairly without engaging in drugs, to compete with fairness in mind so that when and if you lose fairly, you will also accept it fairly.

Fairness creed

There are people that still write petitions against me and I challenge them to take the petitions anywhere. NCPC under our watch has no particular interest in anybody. We have an interest in fairness and doing things the right way, the right time. It is a creed for us. Our service providers should note that doing the right things doesn’t end with the bid opening or procurement. It continues with the services you render, that you demonstrate fairness. The people you are dealing with are people who may not be as rich as you are. The way the world evolves today, those who are down today may be up tomorrow, vice versa. If you have fairness, even when the scale is turned, people will respect you for your humanity and contributions to their development.

Service providers

Service providers should provide excellent services to our pilgrims, without cutting corners or compromising standards or interests – they deserve it. Let it be that whatever you have in the contract is executed. If you cannot do it, you let us know why. It should not be you will do things anyhow and believe there is nothing anybody can do. In some cases, there is nothing anybody can do, but there is something God can do.


We invited stakeholders from anti-corruption agencies, civil society organisations (CSOs), and the general public to come and watch what we do. We’ve introduced a process such that anybody who succeeds in a bid or expression of interest is given a letter on why he succeeded or not. That’s why those who wrote all kinds of petitions against me disappeared into thin air – because the documentations are there. We are not compromised. We work for the better good of Nigerians and humanity.

NCPC is built on fairness and truth. We will not cheat, reduce or withhold the wages of service providers, as the Bible says it is the wicked man that withholds the wages of servants. We will not make any compromise to reduce the services required. We will demand you keep to the tenet of our contract and do what is right. The pay may look small to the service providers, but for the nation we are in, and the numbers we carry every time, it is not a bad pay at all. People sweat to pay it and we want them to have, at least, that short time of pleasure that they can learn and demonstrate spirituality and come back rejoicing that they were part of pilgrimage. Our stakeholders in EFCC, ICPC, CSOs, BPP, henceforth, should write a report and put it to the public domain and to their  institutions about the clarity and exemplary dimension NCPC is bringing to the procurement process in Nigeria so that the world will know what is going on. If we do wrong, people will be told. If we do right, let the world be told.

Going forward 

Many of the things we have introduced have sharpened our operations. We are even an example to older establishments. It has made our pilgrimage easier, smoother and the processes predictable. It has also enhanced our service delivery. For instance, the recruitment of medical personnel for pilgrimage, we make them to write medical exam through JAMB exams. No human beings are marking them; the exams are passed through the computer, so you will either pass or fail.

All those who pass are picked without knowing anybody – no compromises. You will notice that we have recorded one hundred per cent return rate of medical attention. Nobody has died. Those who had challenges through proper attention, they became healthier. Those who were weak have become stronger. In the same vein, all the areas of our operation are done through fairness so that qualified people are the ones that procure our services. So, the policies are working, the direction is clear, and we will have to ensure that this continues so that you won’t have to receive a note from anybody. Just know who you are, do what is right and you will get there.

2019 pilgrimage preparations

We are beginning the preparations for the November/December pilgrimage now. We ought to have gone on the Easter pilgrimage by now, but due to the many holidays in Israel, we have deferred it, so Easter pilgrimage will now run in June. We have tied up all elements. The states that are going have already been identified. Numbers have been taken and pilgrims are being screened. We have tidied up and have concluded that any group that comes beyond April 27 will only go in the November/December. We don’t want any delays and we are trusting God that everything will go according to plan, but we are beginning the mobilisation now. To states, to churches, to private groups, companies, and even to strategic individuals so that by September or early October, we have closed screening for the main pilgrimage. The pilgrimage must commence on November 23 and end by December ending.

Thanksgiving service

The commission on Sunday, April 14, held a thanksgiving service at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of David Parish, Central Business District, Abuja, for a successful 2018 pilgrimage exercise.

At service, Uja said 2018 came with so many difficulties and challenges, but God saw the commission through it all and gave NCPC the best pilgrimage ever.

Success despite challenges

Despite the challenges we faced as a commission, we had the best pilgrimage ever and ended the pilgrimage with surplus. No life was lost and every activity of the commission in 2018 recorded a huge success.

We are happy with the very limited abscondment in 2018. Israel has given us a commendation mark for a successful 2018 pilgrimage. We had less than 20 abscondment out of 9, 800 pilgrims in 2018. To have that kind of rate of below 20, Israel commended us and has returned all the guarantee payments we made for the pilgrims and we are hoping that in this coming year, they may not even ask us to pay anything and visas will be granted without any problems.

Nigeria is the only country that goes on pilgrimage to the State of Israel and holds prayer convocations yearly. I want us to build a prayer convocation ground, through this prayer convocation ground; the whole world will know that the Church in Nigeria is alive.

The commission is working towards moving pilgrimage from government enterprise to a private enterprise and as such urged Christians to take ownership of pilgrimage and sponsor its activities. The commission has registered over 120 Christian pilgrimage operators (CPOs). He challenged the northern Christians to set up CPOs and take up their responsibility so that they can own the land and endear people’s attention to the north.

The major goal of the commission is that Christ should be at the centre of pilgrimage and to use pilgrimage activities to preach the gospel in Nigeria and the world at large. We want our pilgrimage to be such that everyone who goes on pilgrimage should have an encounter with Christ.

Nigerians should be good ambassadors of Nigeria and anyone who goes on pilgrimage should build leadership, productive and national development in every sphere of their lives.

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