In 1844 the Rochdale Pioneers founded the modern Cooperative Movement in Lancashire, England, to provide an affordable alternative to poor-quality and adulterated food and provisions, using any surplus to benefit the community. Since then, the cooperative movement has flourished, extending across the globe and encompassing all sectors of economy.
The beginning of the modern cooperative movement
The earliest record of a cooperative comes from Fenwick, Scotland where, in March 14, 1761, in a barely furnished cottage local weavers manhandled a sack of oatmeal into John Walker’s whitewashed front room and began selling the contents at a discount, forming the Fenwick Weavers’ Society. There are a plethera of records of cooperatives started out as small grassroots organisations in Western Europe, North America and Japan in the middle of the nineteenth century, however, it is the Rochdale Pioneers that are generally regarded as the prototype of the modern cooperative society and the founders of the Cooperative Movement in 1844.The Rochdale Pioneers are regarded as the prototype of the modern cooperative society and the founders of the Cooperative Movement.
The Rochdale Pioneers
In 1844 a group of 28 artisans working in the cotton mills in the town of Rochdale, in the north of England established the first modern cooperative business, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society. The weavers faced miserable working conditions and low wages, and they could not afford the high prices of food and household goods. They decided that by pooling their scarce resources and working together they could access basic goods at a lower price. Initially, there were only four items for sale: flour, oatmeal, sugar, and butter. The Pioneers decided it was time shoppers were treated with honesty, openness, and respect, that they should be able to share in the profits that their custom contributed to and that they should have a democratic right to have a say in the business. Every customer of the shop became a member and so had a true stake in the business. At first, the cooperative was open for only two nights a week, but within three months, the business had grown so much that it was open five days a week.
An independently formulated cooperative model developed in Germany by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen and Franz Hermann Schultz-Delitsch. Raiffeisen and Schultz-Delitsch originally formed credit unions in 1862. Since then the model has grown into other sectors and inspired the growth of financial cooperatives across the world.
The International Cooperative Alliance was founded in London, England on 19 August 1895 during the 1st Cooperative Congress. In attendance were delegates from cooperatives from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Switzerland, Serbia, and the USA. Representatives established the International Cooperative Alliance’s aims to provide information, define and defend the Cooperative Principles and develop international trade. It was one of the only international organisations to survive both World War I and World War II.
Overcoming all the political differences between its members was difficult, but the ICA survived by staying committed to peace, democracy, and by remaining politically neutral.
Celebrating 125 years: evolving to meet changing needs
The achievement in forming the ICA 125 years ago and the continued strength of the cooperative model is a testament of its relevance and contribution & around the world. New forms and kinds of cooperatives are being invented all the time. Social cooperatives, a noteworthy and impactful experiment in itself, were invented in Italy in the late 1970s, and are now extending all over the world. We have recently seen the emergence of freelancers’ cooperatives, community cooperatives, and different types of multi-stakeholder cooperatives around innovative cooperative entrepreneurial models. It is clear that new forms of cooperatives will continue to emerge as the socio-economic needs of human beings evolve and common aspirations manifest into a collective will to build a better world.Today, the ICA is now represents 313 member organisations in 110 countries—more than at any time in these 125 years.
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Looking back 125 years and into the future: Milestones in ICA’s journey
HISTORY OF CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY IN NIGERIA
It initially started as a rotating work association, in which labour as a scarce commodity was accumulated and allocated to one member at a time; and then, with the spreading of commercial transactions, replaced by money, numerous adaptations and innovations have sprung from the Esusu: one is the transformation into non-rotating savings associations with a permanent loan fund and another one is the daily deposit collection at doorsteps or market stalls.
This innovation is called the Ajo among the Yoruba ethnic group of Nigeria. Virtually every ethnolinguistic group in Nigeria has its own traditional cooperative institutions under names (Adashi, in Hausa, Isusu, in Ibo, Osusu by the Ogoja, Dashi by the Nupe and so on) these traditional cooperatives had even been exported as far as the Caribbean, West Africa, and Central African countries and it covers all human societies from marketing, credit, consumer, building, group farming, craftworkers societies. The first known of such cooperative is the Agege Planter’s Union made of over 400 cocoa farmers in 1907, but the colonial government did not support their activities nevertheless they persisted.
THE COLONIAL INFLUENCE
Modern Cooperative is a business organization that is based on the Rochdale principles as set out by the Rochdale’ society of equitable pioneers in 1844 and later adopted by the international cooperative alliance in 1937: (of democratic control, open and voluntary membership, low-interest rate and patronage refund), member education and cooperation among cooperatives.
This modern cooperative was introduced to Nigeria in 1926 when the Ministry of Agriculture in the colonial government of Sir Graeme Thomson recognised and re-organised the cocoa producers’ cooperatives of Agege Planters union and Egba farmers union in the cities of Abeokuta and Ibadan into marketing cooperatives to drive the sales of their produce, the success of this cooperatives was soon replicated across the Western region.
The success story of the marketing cooperatives in the Western province of Nigeria prompted the Government to invite Mr. C.F. Strickland, a former British cooperative registrar in India to study the culture, geography and economic condition of the whole country and propose the best cooperative system suited for the Country, while understudying the Western Nigeria cocoa farmers marketing cooperatives success story. Mr. Strickland understudied them between December 1933-March 1934, and after 3 months of on-the-spot assessment, he recommended the introduction of cooperatives in his report submitted April 1934.
The recommendation was promptly followed by the colonial government as Mr. E.F.G. Haig was appointed the registrar of the newly formed cooperative societies in Nigeria and sent to India to study the ordinance and model of Indian cooperative Societies, which was established based on Strickland thesis and proven outcomes in 1935, this was fashioned after cooperatives of the British-Indian which now serves as the blueprint for the British colonies in Africa countries.
On the basis of the 1934 Strickland report cited above, the colonial administration started to introduce cooperatives in Nigeria from 1935. Based on further recommendations of Mr. Strickland in 1936 with another report which Mr. Strickland submitted in 1936 to promote savings among the low-income government workers, the(C.T.C.S) Co-operative Thrift and Credit Societies was formed and it spread rapidly all over Eastern and Western Region of Nigeria as this form of social organization fitted more neatly into the prevailing indigenous value systems, behavioural norms and patterns of decision making, and provided an alternative approach to managing household finances. In 1937, Gbedun Co-operative Produce Marketing Society became the first Co-operative Society to be registered by the Registrar E.F.G. Haig. Several Co-operative Societies and Union like the Produce marketing cooperative societies in the western region, credit and consumers cooperatives in the east and the credit and market cooperatives in the Northern province later sprang up and were duly registered by the government.
In late 1940, secondary cooperative societies such as Cooperative Produce and Marketing Union (CPMU) Cooperative thrift and credit union (CTCU) started to emerge, which were established by the primary cooperatives to give advice, loans, grants to them and keep their books and records.
THE NATIONALISTIC INFLUENCE
The Regionalization of Nigeria further enhanced the growth of the Cooperatives especially in Western Nigeria as in 1953, The Co-operative Bank Plc was established by the Co-op Movement to provide for financial needs of members of Co-operative Societies in Nigeria. A sum of One Million Pounds (part of the proceeds realized on cocoa Export) was approved for the take-off of the bank by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, then Premier of the Western Region. Since that year, the bank has been playing crucial roles in the economic growth of individuals and the nation as a whole.
The Co-operative Federation of Nigeria (CFN) was formed in 1945 and formally registered in 1967 as the national apex organization which represents the entire co-operative movement in Nigeria. All Co-operative Societies in Nigeria later became Cooperative Societies Association (CSA) which was formerly known as “The Nigeria Co-operative Societies Association (NCSA)”. CSA, which comprises It, is upon these solid foundations and achievement that Co-operative Societies in the country are building on until today.
The Oil boom era of Nigeria will later give the cooperative sector entry into unfamiliar terrain as the successive military government adopted cooperative mechanism as an instrument of rural and economic development, and later as a compensatory mechanism to share the national wealth deriving from oil exports. consecutive governments approach was not to facilitate thrift, self-help, organic growth, prudent lending, prudent expansion, self-control, careful selection of members, rather to source external grants and subsidies to fashion the cooperatives to look more attractive.
The distribution of stockfish, tinned milk and cheap loans through cooperatives in the 1970s up to the mid-1980s permitted rapid quantitative and geographic expansion over and beyond the areas where cooperatives had previously existed. Though this was to later be a blessing in disguise the inability of the cooperatives to access loans from commercial bank led to the establishment of secondary unions, Cooperative Financing Agencies (CFAs), in the 1970s. In many regions, they replaced the former secondary cooperative unions, which had become obsolete as they had lost their importance. The main source of capital of the CFA came from government sources, including State budgets and the Nigerian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank (NACB).
Just the way members of the societies primarily believe the government loans as their quota of the national cake, they had little motif to return their loans to their various primary society, which invariably affected the strength of primary societies to refund back their loans to their state, CFA thus the entire three-tier conduit system, from NACB to primary societies and to state CFAs, collapse systematically apart because none of these institutions was able to repay and recover loans as a result of consumption their share capital and ultimately became insolvent. The old NACB after undergoing so many changes metamorphosed into the Bank of Agriculture Limited in 2010 after undergoing series of such changes to reposition it for better services of credit and developmental functions to the numerous cooperatives in Nigeria. What started with a humble beginning in Western Nigeria among the cash crop produce farmers of 400 without the support of the Colonial government later rose to become the Agricultural and rural development system adopted by the present government with spread across the 774 local government areas of Nigeria.
In 1952, all Co-operative Associations in the old Western Region came together and formed an Apex body which was known as Co-operative Union of Western Nigeria (CUWN).
In 1976, as a result of political re-organization in Nigeria, the Western Region was therefore divided into three States namely; Oyo, Ogun and Ondo States, thus the need for the newly created States to form and establish their own Co-operative Unions in their respective States.
This exercise gave birth to Co-operative Union of Ogun State of Nigeria Limited (COUSON) in 1976. Now Ogun State Co-operative Federation Limited (OGSCOFED) was created to serve as an umbrella Union of all registered Co-operative Societies and Unions in the State.
The organization was re-registered as a result of the amendment of her Bye – Law on 24th June, 2010 with Registration Number 35.
The History of Ogun State Co-operative Federation Limited (OGSCOFED) will be incomplete if I fail to include and mention roles played by the forefathers of Co-operatives in Ogun State.
In 1976, the Leaders of Egba, Ijebu, Remo and Egbado (Yewa) met and decided on how to form and establish a State Union, precisely April 22nd, the leaders in the four Zones unanimously agreed that Pa. Isaac Adewusi Oluga from Egba Branch now Abeokuta Branch I should lead other elected officers to manage the affairs of the newly formed Co-operative Union of Ogun State of Nigeria Limited (COUSON).
After a few months in office the man died and the mantle of leadership fell on his Vice President, Late Chief M. O. Akiode of Egbado, now Yewa South Branch. Late Chief Akiode reigned from 1976 to 1983 and gave the baton to Chief Samuel Solanke Ogunsanwo from Remo, now Remo Branch I. Chief S.S. Ogunsanwo was a teacher, community leader and high Chief from Offin in Sagamu Local Government. He was among the founding fathers of Oluwakemi Offin CTCS Limited and served as President of the Union, a position he relinquished after spending Nineteen (19) years in office.
During his tenure as COUSON President, Chief Ogunsanwo and his team worked hard to achieve the following:
- Acquiring a plot of land from Ogun State Housing Corporation, situated at Asero housing estate and on which the office of OGSCOFED Limited was erected.
- Acquiring Three (3) acres of land from Alawode family on Oke Ata road, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
- Employment of Six (6) Auditors and sending them for Co-operative training at Federal Co-operative College, Eleyele, Ibadan, Oyo State.
- Creation of Egba Branch II now Abeokuta Branch II.
- Re-drafting of COUSON Bye- Laws in 1984
- Another set of Six (6) Co-operative Auditors were recruited in 1986
In March, 1987 a new Board of Directors was elected to succeed Pa. S. S. Ogunsanwo’s regime. It was led by a seasoned administrator, a teacher per excellence, a master planner and great executor of programmes/policies of his predecessors, in the person of Mr. Tayo Sobanjo from Ijebu Branch now Ijebu North Branch of OGSCOFED Limited.
During his maiden speech delivered at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in 1987, he mentioned the need for his Board to have a Committee that would look into peace and harmony of the Co-operative Leaders, put in place effective measures in collecting Audit and Supervision Fee (ASF) dues so as to make COUSON functional and set up a building committee that will see to the building project as soon as the certificate of ownership is acquired etc.
The regime of Mr. Tayo Sobanjo started on a good note by electing a committee that was in charge of office building for Egba Branch I, now Abeokuta Branch I. The Office Complex was completed up to 55% before the expiration of his tenure.
Other good things for which the regime will forever be remembered are:
- Establishment of Ogun State Workers Investment Co-operative Society Limited, that purchased non water section of Ogun Osun River Basin Development Authority in 1989/1990.
- Establishment of Ogun State Co-operative Central Financing Agency Limited (OGCFA)
- Changing the name COUSON Limited to OGSCOFED Limited in 1987.
- Establishment of State Education Committee that would be in charge of training and workshop.
- Construction and completion of OGSCOFED Limited Office building complex etc.
The regime came to an end in 1993 and a new Board of Directors was elected to manage the affairs of the Ogun State Co-operative Movement. The new regime elected in 1993 was led by a Unionist, a high Chief and Community leader from Abeokuta Branch II, in person of Chief Kolawole Olubiyi, now Oba of Orile Imo under Obafemi Owode Local Government in Ogun State.
Oba K. O. Olubiyi was the President of Egbejoda (Abeokuta) Co-operative Thrift and Credit Union Limited, President Abeokuta Branch II of OGSCOFED Limited and President of Presidents of States Co-operative Federation in the South West 1995 – 2000. Chief Olubiyi was active and lover of people, his unionism traits could be seen in the way he demanded for the rights of member’s, staff etc, from the Government.
During this period, Ogun State Co-operative Movements experienced lack of finance and uncooperative attitude of leaders, ASF were not paid as it was supposed to be paid, meetings called were not well attended, exodus of staff were the order of the day because of poor condition of service.
With the above odds, the regime thrived to achieve the followings:
- Creation of additional Three (3) Branches i.e. Yewa North Branch, Ewekoro/Ifo/Ado Odo/Ota Branch and Ijebu North Branch, making our Branches about Eight (8) in numbers.
- Seminars and Workshops were organized in conjunction with Olabisi Onabanjo Consult and Co-operative Department.
- Chief Olubiyi was the one that moved motion for inclusion of States Federation Presidents on the Board of Co-operative Investment and Trust Society Limited in 1999.
The regime expired in 1999, but the Annual General Meeting (AGM) was delayed a little due to a misunderstanding between the Co-operative leaders in the State. The problem could also be linked to inability to have a succession plan and failure to interprete OGSCOFED Limited Bye – Laws as regards election of Board members. Many thanks to the Honourable Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Chief Jide Ojuko who intervened and appealed to the warring parties to work harmoniously for the development of Co-operative in the State.
At the end of the crisis, Chief H. A. Kudoro was elected as the President of OGSCOFED Limited in year 2000, he was President Otitoloju Igan Alade Co-operative Multipurpose Union Limited in Yewa North Branch of OGSCOFED Limited.
Chief H. A. Kudoro had served in different capacity in Ogun State Co-operative Movement. He was Treasurer of OGSCOFED Limited before his election as the President. He served on the Board of Ogun State League of CTCMUS Limited as Board Member and also as a Board Member of Co-operative Supply Association.
As earlier mentioned, the regime inherited leadership crisis and was affected seriously to the extent that staff salaries were in arrears for months. Many OGSCOFED Limited duties were left undone, due to lack of funds. The beauty of this regime lies in the fact that OGSCOFED Limited moved from her former office at Ita Iyalode to her permanent office at Asero, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria in year 2002 and the building loan acquired from defunct Co-operative Bank Plc was paid.
In preparation for a transition to another regime in 2006, OGSCOFED Limited witnessed another family discord as a result of lack of succession plan. Many thanks to the Honourable Commissioner for Community Development and Co-operatives, Apostle Biodun Sanyaolu, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. T. A. Obawunmi that intervened and organized a peace meeting among the warring leaders. Unfortunately, non of the parties was ready to shift and the leaders and Government representatives resolved to consulting Bye Laws in respect of election into the post of President, Vice President and Treasurer.
It was later revealed that out of Eight (8) Branches, Six (6) Branches have produced Presidents, it remains Two (2) Branches i.e. Ijebu Central and Ewekoro/Ifo/Ado Odo/Ota Branches. At the end leaders/Government representatives agreed that the Two (2) Branches should produce the President and Vice President for the Federation. Thus, the mantle of Leadership of OGSCOFED Limited is given to Asiwaju N. E. A. Osisanya.
Asiwaju Nanu Adetokunbo Osisanya was elected as the President of OGSCOFED Limited in February 2006 thus becoming the 7th President of Ogun State Co-operative Movement. Before his election, OGSCOFED Limited was in total disarray due to financial and leadership problems emanating from misunderstanding amongst leaders in the State. Immediately he assumed office with other elected officers, he swung into action to redeem the lost glory and his mission was to have a State Co-operative Movement that is crisis free, full of love, peace and understanding and he worked tirelessly to achieve this feat.
Asiwaju N. E. A. Osisanya who is a Cooperator of note, is the President of Co-operative Pharmacy Ijebu Ode (CMS Limited, President Irepodun Ijebu – Ode CTCU Limited. Both the Co-operative Society and Union ranked among Ten (10) Best Co-operative Societies/Union in Ogun State since year 2009 till date. He can be best described as a goal – getter, a manager par-excellence and entrepreneur of note. He was able to steer the ship of the Co-operative Movement of Ogun State for Seven (7) years through the cooperation of his team and the entire Co-operative Members in the State.
Asiwaju N. E. A. Osisanya possesses leadership quality that allows him to work in harmony with other leaders on the Board for optimal achievement. He left his comfort zone (pharmacy) to revive/reawake many moribund Co-operatives and non – active members from their slumber, through constant training and retraining of leaders both at the Board and Branch levels. Many Co-operative organizations are dead as a result of bad leadership and there are some weak Societies/Unions that were revived and became buoyant through leadership style employed by their leaders.
The first Three (3) years of the regime was used to restructure, and reform (both economic and social) Salaries that were in arrears were paid, more staff were recruited, Audit/Extension job were redefined to meet that test of time. All OGSCOFED Limited financial records were changed, thus rectifying the faults in our internal control system.
The remaining Four (4) years were used in consolidating the vision and mission of the regime, many ideas and new innovations programmes and policies were implemented e.g.
- Leadership by example slogan really worked and changed many of our leaders positively.
- Distribution of Members’ Credit at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) – many Co-operative Societies and Unions changed their orientation and implement this policy and law.
- Introduction of Annual Retreats, Board Retreat, Staff Retreat and Administrative Managers Retreat.
- “Operation show me your Society and Union” (OGSCOFED Limited: Theme 2011) – you can only become leader in Co-operative provided you have a viable Co-operative Society and Union.
- Top Ten (10) Co-operative Societies and Unions in the State (Since 2008 till date).
- Chieftaincy titles to the serving leaders.
- Awards of best Co-operative Societies, Unions, Branches and Apexes.
- Annual Award of Excellence to Three Best Performing Co-operative Societies and Unions in the State.
- Annual Award of Excellence to the Best Union President and Board members of OGSCOFED Limited.
- Celebrating of first ever International Co-operative Day in year 2011 till date.
- Installation of the Executive Governor of Ogun State as Grand Patron in 2011.
- Installation of past OGSCOFED Limited Presidents as Patron of OGSCOFED Limited in 2009.
- Naming of the OGSCOFED Limited building and offices after the past Presidents.
- Installation of First Lady of Ogun State as Grand Matron in 2011.
The regime will forever be remembered for: –
- Introduction of Computer into OGSCOFED Limited.
- Purchase of Three (3) Official cars for office use.
- Creation of Two (2) additional Branches e.g. Remo Branch II and Abeokuta Central Branch.
- Organizing fee training for the Administrative Managers in the State.
- Regular General and Board Meetings with satisfactory number of members in attendance.
- Reviewing of OGSCOFED Limited Bye- Laws.
- Preparation of calendar of activities annually.
- Staff welfare packages etc.
- Inclusion of Seven (7) Salary and Departmental Co-operative Societies and Unions representatives on the Board of OGSCOFED Limited.
GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION AND CONTRIBUTION TO CO-OPERATIVES
In February 3rd 1976, when Ogun State was created, the Government that served in the second republic during the regime of Chief Olabisi Onabanjo (of blessed memory) gave Ogun State Co-operative Movement an annual subvention through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The thirds republic Governor in Ogun State led by Chief Olusegun Osoba, gave a sum of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00) cash assistance to the Federation which was officially presented to the then President of the Federation on 14th March, 2003.
In 2004, when Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration assumed office, he inaugurated committees that looked into the workings of the Government Ministries and Parastatals; the Executive Secretary was nominated as member of committee on Commerce, Industry and Co-operatives.
This singular honor, gave us opportunity to submit a paper to the committee on the workings of Ogun State Co-operative Movement, prospects and challenges. Consequently, many of the suggestions made in the report were implemented, for example, giving Annual Grant to OGSCOFED Limited, purchase of commercial car for the use of Co-operatives on hire purchase, creation of separate Ministry for Co-operatives etc.
Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s administration gave OGSCOFED Limited One Million Naira (N1,000,000.00) Grants every year for Six (6) years.
In 2011, the Almighty God radiated joy and smile on our faces through the hardworking President of OGSCOFED Limited, Asiwaju Nanu Adetokunbo Osisanya who organized and invited Government to participate in our year 2011 Co-operative day in which the newly elected Governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun CON, FCA attended and announced a micro loan of Twenty – Five Million Naira (N25,000,000.00) to all Co-operatives in Ogun State.
This would be the first time an Executive Governor of Ogun State will attend and announce a huge sum of loan to the Co-operatives. Apart from this micro loan of Twenty – Five Million Naira (N25,000,000.00), the Government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun FCA also gave Annual Grants of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00) to the Federation.
In addition, more Co-operative Staff were recruited and remunerated accordingly; more Co-operative Zonal Offices were also established to draw Government closer to the members.
Ogun State Co-operative Movement will forever be grateful to the Administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun FCA for the roles played in increasing Co-operative participation by citizens of Ogun State through the micro loan and the encouragement given to the populace to join Co-operative before enjoying any loan facilities from the Government parastatals.