The importance of Nigerian cooperatives in real estate investment can not be overemphasized and that is why we decided to gain from the wealth of an expert in this field. Mr Victor Oyegoke who is a cooperative consultant is the Principal Consultant/CEO of Cooperative Support Services Limited based in Lagos. Read the interview we had with him below:
NREH: Can we meet you sir?
Mr Oyegoke: Thank you for having me on your program. My name is Victor Oyegoke – a cooperative consultant by the grace of God. I am the Principal Consultant/CEO of Cooperative Support Services Ltd based in Lagos – a wholly professional and management support services provider of repute to cooperative organizations and microcredit institutions in Nigeria. We got established since 2010 and have served the coop movement and the regulators in one way or the other adding value to the cooperative sector. You can check our website at www.cooperativesupport.coop to know more about us and what we do
NREH: What is the breakdown of the structure of cooperatives from the local to the international level?
Mr Oyegoke: When we talk of Cooperative structures from local to international, we are talking about the way they are at each levels starting from the Primary Cooperative Societies which the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Laws stipulated as being the coming together of a minimum of 10 like minded individuals to form a cooperative to solve a problem which might be economic, social or cultural and environmental in nature but differs now from State to State. Examples are Bersama Real Estate Cooperative Multipurpose Society Ltd, FIRS staff CMS Ltd, etc
We have next on the levels the Secondary Cooperative Societies also known and called the Union because they are always formed by minimum of 5 Primary Cooperative Societies that is, coming together of primary coop societies to form a union of cooperative. e.g. Ikeja Multipurpose Cooperative Union Ltd, Oyosowapo Cooperative Union Ltd, NACCUN that is now rebranded to CFAN, CoopTrust now rebranded Odua Conglomerate, etc. It should be of note that you can have a secondary Union at State, Regional or, and at the National Levels
The top most level in a country are the Apex or Tertiary Cooperatives also known as the Coop Federations they can be at State or National levels of which they unite and speaks on behalf of all cooperatives within a State or, and at the National and International levels Examples at State levels of Coop Federation is LASCOFED in Lagos State and OGSCOFED in Ogun State each state in Nigeria has their federations of cooperatives including FCT…. At the National level we have CFN that is Cooperative Federation of Nigeria who are the Umbrella body that covers all cooperatives in Nigeria.
At the International levels we have the global body for the cooperative movement known as International Cooperative Alliance (The Alliance) They consist of the sectoral organizations and the Cooperative Apexes, Unions and Societies around the world, you can log on to their website www.ica.coop to know how big is the coop movement in the world today. In fact, The Alliance is the largest NGO in the world today with over a billion members and has been existing since 1895. That’s how huge the coop movement is
NREH: In Nigeria, what is the potential of cooperatives?
Mr Oyegoke: Wow! The potentials are enormous looking at the economy today even when they say we are out of recession you and I know that we can’t feel the out of recession theory in our pockets and foods on our table… The solution to situations like this is the cooperative economy and I wish the government can see to that and use the model to reach out to the real masses as it were today no family tree that you wont found a cooperator.
It is either you, your mother or aunty or uncle or the grand parent has done cooperative…. So we need get our priority well and tap into the opportunities, cooperating together to meet our socio-economic and cultural needs and aspirations, the earlier the better. Cooperatives can be formed in every sector and it can be a vital tool for development, hence the potential in Nigeria is huge and we are yet to tap into it.
By God’s grace we have just formed a coop which is to take up a project to show case nationally and internationally major cooperatives in Nigeria and their social impact and economic performances that will demonstrate the potentials of coops. Check The Alliance website again and you will agree that coops have so much potentials when it comes to social, economic, cultural and environmental issues globally and Nigeria is not left out.
NREH: Is there any future for cooperatives in Nigeria?
Mr Oyegoke: Yes! I would say brighter and rewarding future awaits us in the cooperative sector…. Like I said earlier we are championing a new cause that will demonstrate the relevance of the coop movement in Nigeria…. It has to start from each of us who believed and have passion for cooperative promotion, development and sustainability this is what we stand for at Cooperative Support Services and we are passionate about the future of cooperatives in Nigeria.
Personally, I got that vision about 17years ago and I have been doing everything possible within my own limits to promote it. We begin to raise a new mindset and young cooperators by founding the Nigerian Youth Cooperative Network check our website www.youthincoops.org to read more about our efforts in providing a platform to bred the future of cooperative enterprise.
NREH : Compared to other countries, African countries even, Nigerian cooperatives have done so little, why is that?
Mr Oyegoke: Not that the Nigerian Cooperative Movement has done little compared to other African countries par se, but we do not have a comprehensive statistical data or figures to show case what level we have impacted in the economy. For example , in Kenya the coop movement is known to be a major player in the economy as they add to the GDP 45% for there is a dataset that gave them the yard stick but in Nigeria nothing to really show… If we look backed in those late 1930’s and early 1940’s during the regional government of Northern Region, Eastern Region and Western Region you will agree with me that cooperatives are doing fantastically great as we have organised cash crops being exported with the coop movement at the forefront in Agriculture, Credit and Finance, Housing, Export Trade, Investments, Commerce, Insurance, Travel, Transportation etc
Like I said we have enormous potentials and the more reason why it seems we are not doing well is because there is no concerted efforts, no synergy from our so called leaders and majority of them are not 21st century compliance hence, what do you expect when majority of our leaders are not fit and not ready to upgrade to the 21st century…. That is why we want to embark on a serious campaign with our project being a private initiatives and wont wait but take steps one coop at a time and we shall achieve the goal of reorienting the leaders so that we can get it right once and for all and we take our place back as giant of Africa. I still believe in the cooperative movement just watch out the Nigerian Cooperative Movement is coming!