By Salihu Dantata Mahmud
There is no doubt that the existence of the federal civil service staff of Nigeria cooperative society union, an umbrella body of all ministerial, extra ministerial and millennium development agencies, has helped to redirect the thinking, planning and self sustainability of federal civil servants and their partners in MDAs, with over 150 registered cooperative societies and about 300,000 individual members drawn from the 36 states of the federation and FCT. Cooperatives in the public service have consistently provided the financial succour required by members and staff in MDAs towards meeting the daily needs of workers.
Therefore the formation of the union was quite timely by and apt to complement the effort of primary cooperatives in MDAs. However, additional effort is required to bring on board various economic players that have the wherewithal to partner the union in the attainment of its set objectives. The incumbent president of the cooperative, Barr. Onjefu Obe, a lawyer with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission under whose present stewardship and tenure the 2017 2nd Annual Conference of the federal civil service staff of Nigeria cooperative is being organized, has in no small way demonstrated his skills, foresight and capability to move the union to greater heights and make it compete with sister unions in Africa and in the world. This year’s conference with the theme: cooperative societies as veritable tools for wealth creation, is scheduled to hold from November 23-25, 2017.
With high calibre monarch like the Emir of Kano as chairman of the occasion, guest lecturer and award recipient, speaks well and signifies the sensitivity of the conference and award. While many institutions, civil society organizations as well as media outfits base their awards on sycophancy, the FEDCOOP distinguished itself by adopting a thorough screening, vetting and selection process via disguised monitoring of activities, achievements and valuable contributions of the nominees. This was done in order to bring a new approach to the conferment of award on functionaries and personalities. Other dignitaries expected at the conference and award ceremony include, the central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, Senators Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya, Ademola Adeleke and Phillip Tanimu Aduda, respectively. Others are governors of Niger, Sokoto, Rivers and Adamawa states, comptroller general of immigration, managing directors of AMCON, NDIC, Bank of Industry and director general of Securities and Exchange Commission. Director of FCT Directorate of Road Traffic Services (VIO), Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, among others, will also grace the occasion.
For a federal civil service cooperative union that could at a blow attract the attention of the President, Senate President, service chiefs and inspector general of police as well as business moguls like Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Mike Adenuga and host of others to restrict and limit their nomination and selection to these mentioned elder statesmen of integrity, public office holders of repute and grassroots chairmen of honor goes to place legacy above materialism and status. From federal to states, local governments to development areas, civil servants form the integral part of the work force. The history of the creation of cooperative unions, thrift societies and contributory scheme emanated from the unforeseen emergencies and hazards associated with human living in events of the occurrence of health deficiency, family needs and other demands from essential requirements, cooperative unions serves as remedies and lenders of last resort. This is not also without the non cooperative attitudes of some individual staff and politics of organizations where these cooperatives are seen as opposition and radical setups to torment chief executives. Notwithstanding, the expansion of the cooperative unions to state levels as being proposed by the Barrister Obe led executive is a step in the right direction and could also help to enlighten, educate and mobilize members on the imperatives of cooperative unions to the immediate needs and demands of members. Often times, mortgage institutions, banks and even thrift societies do not oblige to borrowing money to members and customers due to stringent policies and financial laid down regulations.
As such, cooperative unions remain as the lenders of last resort just as the Central Bank of Nigeria is to commercial banks, members of these cooperative unions could borrow to support their spouses and families to engage in small scale businesses
The current crusade and fight against corruption by the Muhammadu Buhari administration which witnessed tremendous support from Nigerians is commendable. In a way, factors responsible for corruption amongst government functionaries, civil servants, security agents and individuals are feasible. For instance, the monthly income of a level 3 federal, state or local government worker cannot meet the meal requirement of their households to payment for rent, school fees, hospital bills, general maintenance as well as other unforeseen hazards. What do you expect such categories of workers to indulge in with opportunities to commit fraud in their MDAs – total corruption, of course. Therefore, the existence of cooperative unions as lenders of last resort could further compliment the immediate needs of these class of civil servants.
Ministers in charge of federal ministries, managing directors of MDAs, state governors and local government chairmen should encourage their staff to join cooperative unions for the betterment of the society, this is why the enthusiasm, foresight and skills of the incumbent president of the cooperative and his esteemed executives to expand the membership of the cooperative unions to states should be commended and eulogized.
With Nigeria exiting recession, alternative financial arrangements through contributions to cooperatives is necessary, the media should lend support to the federal civil service staff cooperative union in order to encourage unwilling members to join.
The CBN should find ways of collaborating with the cooperative unions in both federal and states in order to promote self-reliance and alternative channels to economic remedy and empowerment.
Mahmud is former media aide to Interior Minister