Lagos State government said it has finally banned state sponsorship of Muslims and Christians pilgrims who embark on pilgrimages to Mecca in Saudi Arabia or Jerusalem in Israel, saying it considered it the most irresponsible way of spending tax payers’ money.
The state Commissioner for Home Affairs, Honourable Abdulateef Abdulhakeem, disclosed this when members of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Home Affairs, led by Honourable Olayiwola Olawale, paid a visit to the ministry in furtherance of their oversight function.
Abdulhakeem said the government decided to ban the sponsorship because it amounted to injustice for certain individuals to continue to benefit from the government to the detriment of other members of the society.
The commissioner, who said part of his ministry’s mandate is the supervision of the Pilgrims Welfare Board, recalled that recently, the governor and the state executive council approved a policy for the state to stop sponsorship of pilgrimages, declaring that the step was in 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.
The commissioner also disclosed 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, who noted that there was a symbiotic relationship between the executive and the legislative arms of government in the state, expressed appreciation to the state House of Asembly for the quick passage of the 2016 Budget.
“Your resolution is a compulsion, it is not advisory. Even your motion that Mile 12 Market should be relocated to another area is being considered by the state government. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been restructured and some of its duties have been given to other MDAs.”
The chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Home Affairs, Honourable Olayiwola Olawale, in his response, described the decision of the government as laudable, saying the House 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, adding 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.
“I commend the pro-active posture of the ministry as enumerated by the commissioner. We are happy with the steps being taken by the ministry to ensure religious harmony in the state. We will also support this with the necessary