The Akwa Ibom State Christian Pilgrim Welfare Board is said to be in pains due to poor release of funds to meet its services.
The board headed by Cletus Bassey, an Arch-Bishop is alleged to be unable to access funds accrued to it in the yearly approved estimates.
Recall that during the 2018 screening exercise of intending pilgrims conducted by the board members in Uyo, Bassey said “Despite prevailing economic recession in the country, Governor Udom Emmanuel has demonstrated his strong passion for God and Akwa Ibom people by sponsoring this year’s pilgrim exercise to Israel.”
The chairman added that “the governor, despite paucity of state’s funds has given consideration to the spiritual exercise very importantly so as to lift our people and our state for development in line with the Dakkada philosophy of his administration.”
Of more than N1billion approved for the board in this financial year, the board could only access 20 per cent.
Defending the board’s expenditure and estimates for the 2020 financial year before Akwa Ibom House of Assembly Appropriation Committee on Tuesday, Mrs NsikakAbasi Orok, the secretary of the board, said N120 million is approved for its services this year.
According to her, “The board has gotten approval to airlift 120 pilgrims to the Holy Land beginning from the first week of December this year.”
Orok who lamented the paucity of funds facing the board said “We need prayers to get more funds so that we can perform our duties and render more services. One may think that going to Holy Land is for jamboree, but it more spiritual exercise than the physical.
“Pilgrims who return from the land are bound to improve in their perception of development based on what they saw. In fact, we need more spiritual people in Akwa Ibom than those who carry guns.”
The Appropriation Committee chairman, Uduak Ududoh thanked the board staffers for coming to defend their budget and pledged to ensure adequate budgetary provision is made in next year’s budget for the board.
Information from the board made available to Straightnews indicated that from 2016 to 2014, the number of pilgrims airlifted to Holy Land for pilgrimage rose from about 300 to 1,500.
But from 2015, the number slumped from 1,500 to 200 and is still plummeting on a downward graduation.