- Cooperative societies in Nigeria have over 30 million members and are gaining acceptance as a means of savings and investment.
- Cooperatives are viewed as a way to achieve self-actualization, access finance, and grassroots development.
- The cooperative model is considered safe and inclusive and is backed by the Nigeria Cooperative Societies Act 2004.
Cooperative societies, commonly known as cooperatives, are a growing base for savings and investments among members of the labour force in Nigeria. With more than 30 million members and counting across the 36 states and the FCT, cooperative societies have been the investment backbone of millions of Nigerians.
Peering into the future of cooperative societies in Nigeria, Nairametrics caught up with the Executive Secretary/CEO of the National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CFAN), Mr Emmanuel Atama (FIMC, CMC), who gave his perspective on the future of cooperatives in Nigeria. Excerpts………
Nairametrics: What’s the state of cooperative societies in Nigeria today?
Emmanuel Atama: Cooperative Societies are gaining general acceptability by all and sundry in Nigeria. The working class sees it as a means to self-actualization; businessmen and women see it as a platform to access finance and shared facilities for business growth and development; village development associations and town unions see it as crucial to achieving grass-root development; faith-based organizations see it as welfare for their teaming members in a sustainable manner and so on. Thus, cooperatives are witnessing tremendous growth and general acceptability in Nigeria.
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Nairametrics: Can you give a growth trend in terms of numbers and profit in Nigeria over the past 10 years?
Emmanuel Atama: Cooperative is growing at a geometric rate with over 30 million membership bases across the 36 states in Nigeria and the FCT-Abuja. Profit is not in cooperative vocabulary but a surplus. While I will not give a global figure, I will say specifically that in the Federal Capital Territory here that I have watched over four (4) departmental-based cooperatives that have consistently declared over N300 million surplus in the last 6 years — declared as dividends and shared to members on an annual basis.
Nairametrics: What future do cooperatives hold for the Nigerian economy?
Emmanuel Atama: Cooperative Societies are key instruments to achieving the SDGs in Nigeria due to their general acceptability and mass mobilization of human and material resources to achieve set targets with peer pressure. The prospects are high considering the patronage of the government, the organized private sector and development partners have provided overtime as an instrument of entrenching inclusive growth and development down to the grass-root.
Nairametrics: What’s your projection?
Emmanuel Atama: The cooperative movement projects into a cooperative order where the Cooperative Inclusive Strategy will enhance access to basic things of life such as access to finance, healthcare, pension and housing for inclusive growth and development.
Nairametrics: How secure are Nigerians’ savings with cooperative societies?
Emmanuel Atama: The Cooperative model is the safest and most inclusive strategy in entrenching financial inclusion due to CROSS GUARANTEE SYSTEM which sees to the full redemption of loans on any member to avert delinquency and its associated loss of liquidity and capital. Many financial institutions in Nigeria today have adopted the cooperative model in credit administration.
Nairametrics: As an association and financial sub-industry, do you have legal backing?
Emmanuel Atama: Cooperatives are backed up by the Nigeria Cooperative Societies ACT 2004 CAP 98 LFN and their by-laws. There is also the Cooperative Development Policy which directs the establishment of the National Council on Cooperative and the National Cooperative Advisory Board. At the National, Mr President appoints the Federal Director of Cooperatives while the Governor does the same for the State Director of Cooperatives. The Cooperatives are established under Cooperative Societies ACT and regulated under the same.
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Nairametrics: Would you consider cooperative societies to be a tool for poverty eradication?
Emmanuel Atama: Cooperative Societies have been a tool for poverty alleviation in Nigeria under various governments and programmes. The reason is its capacity to mobilize the masses for inclusive growth and development.
Nairametrics: What input would you like to see from the incoming administration to strengthen cooperative societies for economic growth?
Emmanuel Atama: We would like to see the review of the Nigeria Cooperative Societies Acts 2004 CAP 98 LFN; the Cooperative Development Policy 2002, the establishment of the National Cooperative Development Commission at the Federal Level and replicated at the State levels to improve and better regulation and practice. Above all, support the cooperative moment to establish the National Cooperative Development Fund to close the funding gaps in cooperatives and provide guarantees for cooperative businesses.