Government has served notice it is not suspending plans to facilitate Christian pilgrimage to Israel and the Vatican City, despite the massive public backlash.
The move to send over a 100 persons to some Holy cities has been described by majority of the public as a misplaced priority on the part of government. The Christian Council of Ghana has stated “it does not want tax payers to bear the cost”.
But the Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister Kofi Dzamesi insists arrangements for the first batch to embark on the religious journey is far advanced to be halted.
“On July 15, I will be leading a group of hundred people,” he told Accra-based Citi FM Tuesday. “And once we get there, we will sign a memorandum of understanding between the Ministries of Tourism, Interior and Religious Affairs of Israel and our Ministries for a better preparation towards future excursions.”
He noted the Ghana Embassy in Israel will be involved to ensure that our citizens [Ghanaian pilgrims] will not have problems with accommodation and transportation.
The minister then assured Travel and Tour Agencies who are already in the business that government is not against their activities.
Speaking on the same issue, the Minority chief whip Muntaka Mubarak lauded government’s decision to facilitate the trip to Israel.
“I think that is a very welcoming thing. While they are going to worship, they will take time to also pray for the country,” the NDC MP for Asawase said.
He added: “In the case of Muslims, it is the Saudi government that will not allow individuals to do that. I don’t know about Israel but if it’s so, and government is also going to coordinate it, I think it is a very good thing… Christians should be given a space to worship, and Muslims should also be given space to worship. I think it’s a very laudable thing.”
However, the Pentecost Church has described the initiative as needless. The chairman of the Church of Pentecost Apostle Dr. Opoku Onyinah said the government should rather channel the resources into development.
“I don’t think government should sponsor people to travel,” Apostle Dr. Onyinah stated. “We’ve got so many things to do, the nation has so many challenges, the money of the nation should be used to develop the nation.”
He added: “If someone wants to travel for religious purpose the person should be asked to pay his own expenses, but if the government opens the opportunity for us and give us the formal way to make things for people I cherish that and I thank the government for that, but I don’t support the idea that government should pay, sponsor those going out for religious purposes I don’t buy that idea. The money should be used to develop the country.”