Ambode bans state sponsorship of pilgrims to Mecca, Jerusalem

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has the banned the sponsorship of pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and Israel by the state government, saying that the practice amounted to a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Every year, Lagos spends multi-millions of naira to sponsor pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and Israel, but the governor has decided to stop the waste of huge expenditure on pilgrimage, especially at this economic crunch.
State’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Alhaji Abdullateef Abdulhakeem disclosed this when the House of Assembly Committee on Home Affairs paid him a visit in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Thursday.
According to Abdulhakeem, the Islamic scripture did not compel anybody to go for hajj if he did not have money to do so, saying that it is most irresponsible to waste taxpayers’ money on pilgrimage.
“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 and that is line with the policy thrust of the government and what the state 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 did 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 group of people when millions of Lagosians are yearning for government’s attention,” he said.
Abdulhakeem also said state government has commenced the process of gathering data of religious organizations and their locations in the state to be able to set standards, give orientation and provide security for them.
According to him, there is a symbiotic relationship between the executive and the legislative arms of government in the state, while thanking the assembly for the quick passage of the 2016 Budget.
Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Home Affairs, Olayiwola Olawale said the decision was laudable, saying the Assembly was ready to back the decision with the necessary legislation.
He stated that the visit of the committee to the ministry was homecoming, adding that the commissioner was a man of integrity and that the committee would work hand-in-hand with the ministry.
“The Speaker of the House and other Principal Officers send their greetings. We are here to perform our oversight functions and we are ready to work with the ministry to achieve success,” he said. – The News.

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