President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to complete the implementation of Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with Israel to enable direct flights from and to Nigeria for pilgrims going to the Holy Land for pilgrimage.
This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), Dr. John Kennedy Opara, on Sunday.
The BASA agreement was initiated by the Goodluck Jonathan administration to ease the stress of Nigerians in pilgrimage or business, who have to fly through countries like Turkey and Malta before entering or leaving Israel.
Speaking with The AUTHORITY yesterday, Opara expressed optimism that with President Buhari’s intervention, the BASA issues could be sorted out ahead of this year’s pilgrimage exercise.
His words: “I must tell you that it is something that is quite worrisome but the president, in his wisdom, has directed the Ministry of Transportation to ensure that the BASA process is completed.
“I understand that the documents are now with the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to try and work out the security issues.
“I am trusting God that it will clear before the main pilgrimage starts. I know the president is desirous of making sure that Nigerians enjoy this BASA and undertake their trip to Israel without the hardship of going through different countries while we have a BASA with Israel”.
Opara also disclosed that the commission had reached advanced stage towards the launch of a lottery scheme to allow over 200,000 Nigerian Christians the opportunity of performing the pilgrimage to Israel free of charge.