A new ultra-modern camp for use by both Muslim and Christian intending pilgrims from Bauchi state was constructed and commissioned by Gov Bala Mohammed. The occasion attracted eminent personalities as NAJIB SANI reports.
It was a day of jubilation and roll call of ‘who is who’ at the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport Bauchi last week when the Bauchi state governor Bala Mohammed assisted by the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar commissioned a multi million naira modern permanent transit camp for muslims and christians pilgrims.
Comparison between old camp and new one
The plights of the pilgrims in the state was pathetic in the past years as they converged at the dilapidated Bauchi Games Village that has inadequate rooms thereby forcing the intending pilgrims especially muslims faithfuls who have high number to be overcrowd in the rooms while those who couldn’t get the rooms were forced to sleep outside in bare floor.
Though intending pilgrims stayed for few days at the camp to undergo training on pilgrimage and await the aircrafts that would take them to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, they lived miserably at the games village camp which had always suffered from lack of maintenance and renovation for years.Investigation by Blueprint reveals that the reason the camp was not properly maintained before now is due to the fact that the state has not been hosting serious sports festivals where sports men and women would sleep at the games village or play games therein.
This is more so as some of the accommodation facilities at the former pilgrims camp are at present being utilised by corps members, students and other tenants who opted for the place because the rents are cheap.
However, beside lacking sufficient accommodation, the former camp also lacks other facilities like a befitting mosque, hall and toilets for use by the intending pilgrims. Very rich people therefore prefer international flights that would wander with them to some countries before finally landing them at the holy land just to avoid the camp in spite of the important training they would receive there especially on how to perform the pilgrimage properly.
That is not all, the former camp is also far away from the airport as it is located at Federal Low Cost Quarters in Bauchi town about 22 kilometres away from Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport situated in Durum village.
As a result of this, pilgrims had to struggle to rush to the airport on their flight days or even sleep at the airport on their scheduled flight days to avoid missing their flights.
Against this background, Governor Bala Mohammed decided to bring succour to pilgrims when he awarded a contract for the construction of an ultra-modern permanent camp to be used by both muslims and christians pilgrims close to the airport.
The project which was awarded last year at the cost of N658 million was completed and commissioned amidst encomiums and jubilation by religious leaders from within and outside the state.The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, was invited by the governor to commission the new modern camp named after him.
Gov Bala explains rationale for the project
Speaking during the commissioning of the camp, Governor Bala explained that the sum of N658 million was expended in the project.
He said the new camp has male and female hostels with many rooms, screening hall, 1, 500 capacity multi-purpose hall, mosque, ablution sites, toilets, kitchen and a clinic.
According to him, aside being close to the airport, the proximity of the camp to the Nigeria Airforce base would help to ensure security and safety of pilgrims.
He urged the state pilgrims welfare board to invite traders to occupy the shops at the place and bring commodities during pilgrimage seasons so that intending pilgrims could purchase the things they need.
The governor also charged the board on maintenance of the place adding that other important conferences could also hold at the camp.”We know that Bauchi people are very religious people. What they need is for them to be provided some facilities, some amenities and allowances to be able to discharge this pillar of religion.
“This is the only way we can show that we are grateful to them for bringing us to this seat. When I inspected the temporary camp in town, I discovered that it was completely out of place. There was no hospital clinic, nothing to show that it is a hajj camp.
“We decided to initiate this with the state assembly and after due consultations with the National Hajj Commission, we came up with this edifice to make sure that, at least, the traveling pilgrims are provided with the basic amenities they require. I want to say that even the temporary camp in town, we had always used it collectively with our christian brothers. So, this facility is not a different facility. This facility will also accommodate them when our christian brothers are traveling to Israel,” the governor clarified.
Sultan commends religious harmony in Bauchi
In his remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III commended the governor for the project and for naming the edifice after him.He said that it is a good place for pilgrims to lodge while awaiting their flights to the Holy land as everything needed by them is available there.
“I will like to thank the governor for finding it fit to build this camp not just for muslims pilgrims; it is for christians pilgrims too because both two major religions undertake such trips to the Holy lands and anybody can use this.”
The Sultan also thanked muslims and christians clerics in the state who attended the commissioning of the hajj camp, saying it is an indication that there is mutual understanding between muslims and christians in the state.Sa’ad Abubakar III promised that the sultanate would continue to foster inter-religious harmony in Nigeria asking compatriots to challenge the elites that fan the embers of disunity.
Bishop lauds Bala
The Catholic Bishop of Bauchi, Reverend Hillary Dachelem lauded the government of Bala Mohammed for being a government of dialogue that carries everybody along. “He decided to carry everybody along. And that is why there is peace in Bauchi. He is a governor that listens and I believe any governor or leader that listens would always make progress.
“I want to thank you, Your Excellency for being a governor that has listening ears to your people and you hear the yearnings of your people. I am not here to praise you but what you have done in Bauchi, if you go to some places they have not done it in eight years,” he said.Other religious leaders that graced the occasion included the national leader of Jamma’atu Izalatil Bidi’ah Wa’ikamatis Sunnah Jos division Sheikh Sani Yahya Jingir and Sheikh Balarabe Isah representing the national leader of Tariqa Tijjaniya Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi.