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Enhancing cooperative movement in Nigeria: The Lagos model

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Lagos, the nation’s ‘Centre of Excellence’ is unique in many ways. It is the sixth largest city in the world. It is also the leading non-oil sector contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2006, it contributed 30% of the nation’s GDP, consumed more than 60% of its energy, paid 65% of its value Added Tax (VAT), and accounted for 90% of Nigeria’s foreign trade and 70% of all industrial investments.

With three lighter terminals and two ports, Lagos generates 50% of Nigeria’s port revenue, while the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, is the major hub for aviation within West Africa and Europe. With over 2,000 manufacturing industries and over 200 financial institutions, Lagos is the country’s financial, commercial and industrial nerve centre.

The State alone harbours about 60 per cent of the Federation’s total industrial investments and foreign trade, while also attracting 65 percent of Nigeria’s commercial activities. It accounts for more than 40 per cent of all labour emoluments in the country. Unarguably, Lagos occupies an important position in the socio-economic equation of Nigeria and, indeed, West Africa.

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The economic success story of Lagos hovers round the formal sector of the economy with high skill workers and a well-organized structure. It enjoys good support from financial institutions in terms of access to loan and other support for business growth.

The other segment of the economy is the informal sector. In time past, the Informal sector is neither taxed nor properly monitored by the government; and is not usually included in the Gross National Product (GNP).

The informal sector refers to very small-scale units producing and distributing goods and services, and consisting largely independent, self-employed entrepreneurs. Opinion differs widely on what should be the appropriate attitudes towards the informal sector. While some tend to see it in terms of popular development, a vital source of employment and income for the poor, the seedbed of local entrepreneurship and a potent instrument in the campaign to tackle poverty; others simply dismiss it as an anomaly, a source of disorder, and an obstacle to the development of a modern economy.

Whatever the standpoint, there is no doubt that the informal sector, particularly in developing economies, remains a solid bedrock for economic emancipation of the downtrodden. In Nigeria, the Lagos example amply reinforces the fact that, if properly regulated and harnessed, the informal sector possesses enormous wealth creation potential.

Consequently, in today’s Lagos, it is difficult to ignore the sector as it has become a veritable source of prosperity and employment for many. The transporters, vulcanisers, mechanics, battery chargers, fashion designers, hairdressers, barbers, traders, painters, welders, carpenters, bricklayers, farmers etc have so much become an integral part of our daily life that the formal sector cannot do without them.

Hence, any government that refuses to recognise the potentials of the sector as a catalyst for growth does so at its own peril. Therefore, the administration of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has evolved several policies and programmes that have accommodated and integrated the sector into the development process in the State.

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One of such is the development of a strong and viable Cooperative Society’s ideal. A Cooperative is a member-owned and controlled business that operates for the mutual benefit of its members. Cooperatives operate across all sectors of the economy. They promote the fullest possible participation in the economic and social development of all people and are a major economic force and a dominant business model. Worldwide, approximately 1 billion people are members of cooperatives. The economic activity of the largest 300 Cooperatives in the world equals the 10th largest national economy.

In Lagos State, the Cooperatives institution is growing in leaps and bounds. Presently, the collective capital base of Cooperative societies in the State has increased to over N180 billion with an increasing membership base of over 2 million. This has subsequently resulted in appreciable upscale in the number of cooperative societies duly registered in the State to over 1600.

In order to properly leverage on this positive development, the State government has developed a template for Cooperative Societies to be used as instruments of economic growth and prosperity through capacity of practitioners in the State.

Similarly, the Lagos State Cooperative College bill was signed into law to further consolidate on the capacity of the College to transform into a full-fledged diploma awarding institution. It is the firm conviction of the government that this commendable development will continue to place demand on the various practitioners to up their games through diploma certification available.

The Cooperative College is a specialized tertiary institution with the exclusive mandate to provide qualitative Cooperative educational training and research to Cooperative Movement and the general public in a bid to safeguard the peoples’ investment and create a platform for Lagosians to realize their career aspiration in Cooperative Management Studies.

Located at Johnson Agiri Complex, Agege, Lagos, the College operates in a serene environment with state-of-the-art facilities suitable for learning and training. It has fully air-conditioned lecture rooms; a well-equipped library that is connected to the internet as well as an auditorium of over 300 capacity with an uninterrupted power supply.

The College runs both short and medium terms’ academic and professional courses, leading to the award of Certificate and Diploma in Cooperative Management Studies.

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These courses are principally meant to build the skills of Cooperative Administrators and members on how to successfully run Cooperative Society on the path of profitability and prosperity. The College engages various high seasoned personnel with deep pedigree in both the theoretical and practical aspects of the subject.

Since its establishment, which was backed by the Cooperative Law in 2018, the College has provided quality training programmes in Cooperative Management to over 4000 cooperators in various short term courses and medium-term professional Diploma Programmes.

In addition to its existing programmes, the College will, from the next academic session run National Diploma in Cooperative Management Studies. This is to widen the scope of knowledge in Cooperative Studies.

Following the Lagos model, it is imperative for all tiers of government in the country to continue to provide an enabling environment and intervention to support Cooperative Societies to thrive. It is, no doubt, a sure way of creating and securing a better future for its members in particular and the society in general. It is important for all and sundry to subscribe to a vibrant Cooperative Society for an assured and prosperous future.

Jamiu is head of Public Affairs Unit, Lagos State Cooperative College, Agege, Lagos.


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