Story By Boboye Onduku With Additional Reports By Henry Tyohemba, Elizabeth Joseph-Williams, Ejike Ejike And Daniel
She joined the cooperative society to save money and the opportunities to get quick money to settle bills. Her yearning needs were truly satisfied: “At that time, if I had to pay house rent, I don’t wait till the rent expires. I go them and they give me the money either from my capital or as a loan,” says Sarota Owota, former member of the Niger Delta University Workers’ Multipurpose Cooperative Society in Bayelsa State. She was so satisfied about the payouts and rewards that she even begged to continue with them upon retirement from the university. “I enjoyed them so much,” she adds with a certain delight in her voice
Cooperative societies also came through for Mercy Akponome when she had to settle a pressing need for her son. “Money was given to me at little or no interest, and I paid back the money gradually with little or no stress,” she says. Given that not all Nigerians can meet up to the demands and necessities of life on the go, these voluntary associations, united by a common bond, have banded together to achieve economic goals for the benefit of their members. But just who are the major players in the cooperatives scene in Nigeria?
THE MAJOR PLAYERS
With cooperative societies governed by the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act and the Office of the Federal Directorate of Cooperatives in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity overseeing their activities, some players have thrived in the past couple of years. The NNPC Staff Cooperative Multipurpose Society Limited, Nigerian Police Cooperative, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Cowries Multipurpose Cooperative, Lagos State Cooperative Federation (LASCOFED), Tiny Seed Cooperative Multipurpose Society, Addax Staff Cooperative Multipurpose Society are in that big league.
WHY COOPERATIVE SOCIETIES?
The primary idea of cooperatives is to provide financial support and assistance for their members and the underprivileged. If such assistance is rendered to the members, the members would be able to get essential things and not lack the basic needs.
Cooperative societies in Nigeria have evolved overtime. Farmers and local retailers were first known to have formed cooperative societies. However, other interest groups have followed suit and cooperatives are now present in most organisations, made up of individuals from different strata. However, membership of any specific cooperative is predicated upon common interest. The most common cooperative is the consumer cooperative society that serves the interest of consumer members. Such cooperatives spread across organisations and interest groups where the focus is to secure best buys for the members.
WHAT MAKES FOR SUCCESS?
It is crucial that cooperative societies are run well if they must continue to meet the objectives of its members. According to Africa Prudential, an investor relations and business support services firm, some of the factors that contribute to the success of cooperative societies in Nigeria range from innovation and adaptation, detailed and advanced planning, skilled management, effective communication, common member interest and networking with other cooperatives.
Different cooperatives promise different benefits depending on the purpose of formation. Some of the benefits include helping members to develop a savings culture, members getting paid annual dividends from shares, members accessing loans and business support, members accessing products and services at affordable rates and helping build local enterprises and profits.
Igba James: ‘ Cooperatives helped me to save and generate money’
The ends Since joining a consumer cooperative in 2015, I have been able to generate and save a lot of money.
Our cooperative is run by ourselves for the mutual benefit of members but someone can join by buying shares.
Each of our members here get dividend in proportion to their shares held in the cooperative store.
The challenges we face range from lack of funds to mistrust of the managers. Some of the managers may swindle funds where there are no proper checks. But with enough capital and trust, I can encourage people to join cooperatives for their own benefits.