Lagos bans sponsorship of pilgrims to Mecca, Jerusalem

Akinwumi Ambode, Lagos State Governor.

Akinwumi Ambode, Lagos State Governor.

Lagos State government yesterday said it has banned state-sponsored pilgrimage, either to Mecca or Jerusalem. The decision, according to the government, was informed by the current economic challenges, where it would be “most irresponsible” to spend taxpayers’ money on sponsoring pilgrimage.

The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Abdulateef Abdulhakeem, who disclosed this when members of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Home Affairs, led by Olayiwola Olawale, paid a visit to the ministry, said that the government decided to ban the sponsorship because it amounts to injustice for certain individuals to continue to benefits from the government to the detriment of other numerous members of the society.

Abdulhakeem said: “ Part of our mandate is the supervision of the Pilgrims Welfare Board. Recently the governor and the state executive council approved a policy for the state to stop sponsorship of pilgrimages. It is in line with the policy thrust of the government and what the House of Assembly also speaks to.

“In this day and time when we are talking about paucity of funds coupled with inhibiting challenges that the government has to take care of, we can no-longer afford to spend the sum of one million on one single individual to go on pilgrimage when the scripture does not compel anyone to do so.

“So it is most irresponsible way of spending tax payer’s money. That is why the government has taken a solid decision that we will be accountable and responsible for every kobo that the tax payers pay to the government. It is an injustice for the government to be spending millions on a group of people when millions of Lagosians are yearning for government’s attention.”

The commissioner added that the state government had commenced the process of gathering data of religious organisations and their locations in the state to be able to set standards, give orientation and provide security for them.

Abdulhakeem thanked the Assembly for the quick passage of the 2016 Budget. Responding to the development, Olawale said the decision was laudable, promising that the Assembly would back it with the necessary legislation.

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