CSOs call for review of cooperative policies to meet new challenges

The Cooperative Finance Agency of Nigeria (CFAN), in collaboration with the Partnership for the Advancement of Women in Economic Development (PAWED), has called for the revision of cooperative policies to better adapt to the realities modern, especially with regard to women and young people.

CFAN Executive Secretary Emmanuel Atama, who made the call yesterday at a national symposium, said: “The time has come to review the centuries-old National Cooperative Development Policy Act (2002) and the Nigerian Law on Cooperative Society 2004 to provide more policy, legal direction and adapt to modern realities given the sustainable and self-help opportunities that abound in cooperatives.

Also, the President and Coordinator of AWITA-PAWED, Mrs. Ruth Agbo, who gave a keynote address on the theme: “The role of women’s cooperatives in building a better world for inclusive growth and development” , noted that MSMEs employ 84% of the Nigerian workforce, contributing about 40% to the country’s economy, with women holding about 41% of the total number of MSMEs in the country.

She cited access to long and short term loans, poverty reduction, job creation and others as some of the benefits of cooperatives, especially for women.

Agbo called on the government to educate women on cooperative societies which will make them more knowledgeable.

She also called for the adoption, implementation and maintenance of savings and loans bills and laws for women while citing the National Social Investment Policy 2016 – Traders Money and market money and the management of the national agricultural credit facility as case studies.

She pointed to poor management, inappropriate structure, corruption, embezzlement and lack of working capital as some of the challenges faced by women’s cooperatives in the country.

For his part, Project Director, Development Research and Projects Center (dRPC), Stanley Ukpai, said, “The government needs to start focusing some of its programs and initiatives on women’s cooperatives.

“We see cooperatives as one of the avenues in which women who hold resources for businesses can come together. So if the government increases the opportunities for these women through cooperatives, I think that will be a big win for the economy,” Ukpai added.

Speaking on policies guiding cooperatives in the country, Ukpai said, “I think there are policies to amplify investments in cooperatives. So what we are asking for is a special focus on an excluded community that is women’s cooperatives.

Meanwhile, Minister for Women’s Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, in her speech, congratulated the organisations. She also emphasized the benefits of cooperative societies and the need for collaboration among stakeholders for maximum benefits.

“Let me say that the women’s cooperative is an important organization that provides a social environment where women can obtain low-cost credit, supplies, agricultural equipment, actively participate in social activities, stand at high levels decision-making in their societies, as well as access to government interventions.

Virginia S. Braud