By Best Agbese
The appointment of the Plateau-born famed minister of the gospel, Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam as the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), on June 26th 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari attracted loud applauses within the Christian community in Nigeria. Rev. Pam emerged leader of the commission on the hills of the unceremonious exist of his predecessor, Rev. Tor Uja following faulty leadership outings and crisis of trustworthy leadership.
The NCPC is the apex national regulatory body for Nigerian Christian pilgrimages, an exercise for spiritual rebirth and deeper understanding of the Christian faith by worshippers. Additionally, it also, has a mandate to create platforms conducive for national inter-religious dialogue, harmony, peaceful co-existence, and development in the comity of the Body of Christ in Nigeria.
Issues of religion are quite thorny, sensitive, and explosive in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria is always concerned with the constant frictions and altercations among the diverse religious sects in the country. So, it is incumbent on any leader of a national religious body to work towards vacating issues which propel disharmony and animosities in religious circles.
Therefore, the mandate of the NCPC leadership is hinged on exiting these unnecessary brawls, entrench inter-religious harmony and enhance the spiritual welfare of Christians in Nigeria. Presently, the NCPC coordinates and supervises activities of intending pilgrims to Holy Lands around the globe, including Israel, Greece, Rome, with the latest addition of Jordan by the Rev. Pam leadership in the 2021 pilgrimage exercise.
These were the onerous tasks placed on the shoulders of Rev. Pam when he mounted the saddle about a year ago, precisely in July 2020. In order to deliver to Nigerians, worthy services of a pilgrim’s commission, Rev. Pam ensconced his vision in battling corruption; rebranding the tainted image of the commission; changing the faulty perception and mindset of the people; strong synergy with the church and the establishment of an NCPC peace desk to resolve emerging disagreements.
So far, Rev. Dr. Pam who parades over 30 years of leadership experiences in the Christian community on the local and national stages, have armed him with enough wisdom to discharge his responsibilities honestly, conscientiously and with the fear of God Almighty.
In effect, Pam considered his elevation to the national leadership of the Christian community in Nigeria under the auspices of the NCPC as a golden opportunity to redeem the battered image of the commission and Christians, which also negatively affected the global reputation of the nation.
The NCPC boss has brought to the table his wealth of experience in promoting inter-religious harmony and conflict resolution, especially in Northern part of the country in the administration of the commission. These have not only been his weapons, but trusted assets in leading NCPC to its towering ambience at the moment.
Barely a year into office, Rev. Pam has admirably proved his mettle as a leader of the people. He has reorganized and repositioned the NCPC as the most organized and efficient pilgrimage body in the world, recognized for excellence in faultless services. These are driven on the principles of fairness, equity and justice as his anthem.
Ab initio, Rev. Pam was convinced that his failure to lead the NCPC on the path of glory will bring shame to the church and canvassed inclusive leadership from all stakeholders in Christendom in the country. Pam enthused that “There’s a need to bring out talents to build NCPC. The time has come to work together and collectively re-build the image of our country and the NCPC.” It has been his operative doctrine inspired by orderliness and commitment to a service which repulses all manifestations of corruption in the commission.
Pam is a team player and keeps constant touch with Executive Secretaries and Board Chairmen of States’ Christian Pilgrim Welfare Boards and other stakeholders in piloting the affairs of the commission. He has sustained synergy with disparate bodies for the smooth dispensation of the operations of the commission.
To get started, Rev. Pam trained staffers of the commission in Lagos for effective Pilgrimage operations and refreshed their memories on the discharge of official responsibilities at a three-day staff retreat in Jos. The NCPC under the leadership of Rev. Pam also organized the maiden Ministers Conference of Network of Gospel Ministers in Northern Nigeria (NOGMINN), in Jos, Plateau state as part of his deliberate policy of his inclusive administration of the commission.
This platform which assembled ministers of the gospel was utilized by Pam to sermonize to the church in Nigeria to assume complete ownership of Christian pilgrimage in Nigeria and the operations of the NCPC generally. With a mind always fixated on peace, the NCPC boss invited these ordained messengers of God to assist in restoring peace and unity in the Northern part of the country.
To his credit and the expansion of the experiences of Nigerian pilgrims, Rev. Pam has worked out modalities for the 2021 intending pilgrims to explore new Holy sites around the world, outside the routine sites. The Kingdom of Jordan has been added to the list of countries to be visited by Nigerian pilgrims because of its historic religious significance to Christian faithful.
And proactively, Rev. Pam embarked on an inspection and exploratory visit to the new sites; dialogued with the Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities in Amman and finalized the arrangements. It will be a novel experience for the 2021 pilgrims.
The NCPC executive scribe is also conscious of the Coronavirus pandemic and its effects. To ensure Nigerian pilgrims are protected from contracting the disease, Rev. Pam has kept in constant touch with the Israeli authorities to monitor and detect any unusual or awkward development that may endanger and compromise the health of Nigerian pilgrims.
And in consonance with one of his visions, Rev. Pam has introduced and vigorously pursued peace-building among religious sects in the country. His intervention in the perennial Southern Kaduna crises between Christians and Muslims tremendously assisted in brokering peace to warring factions. It terminated with a three-day peace summit, where the agenda of de-escalation of crises was extensively discussed and a report, containing recommendations on enduring peace has been forwarded to Governor Nasir El-Rufai for necessary action.
To expand the tentacles of the NCPC and bring its services closer to Northern Christians, the commissions executive secretary is currently in persuasive dialogue with the Northern governors for the establishment of pilgrim welfare boards in states with any such office. He is optimistic that the fruitful discussions would create more pilgrim boards in the North to deeply unite Christendom and generate progressive ideas for the development of the country.
Conversely, NCPC under Rev. Pam has intensified sensitization visits to State Governors as well as advocacy for sponsorship of pilgrims in Nigeria. Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam has demonstrated in all ramifications, an impactful leadership of the commission in a short while. At the expiration of his five- year tenure, NCPC would surely be transformed into an enviable national asset for both Christians and the nation through Pam’s purposeful and focused leadership. #
Agbese is a UK based scholar and wrote from Dundee.