Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Federal Cooperative College Oji River Enugu State was the venue of a three-day capacity building workshop for members of farmers’ cooperatives in Anambra state. The three-day brainstorming cum technical session was designed to seek improved means of enhancing farmers’ cooperatives in terms of finance, administration, membership, business and a host of others. Emphasis was on the need for multi-purpose cooperatives rather than single-purpose which is currently old-fashioned. Papers presented revolved around discovering new Hi-Tech methods of sustainable multi-purpose cooperatives for farmers especially those in Anambra state. Participants at the sensitisation programme were drawn from Nnewi-North, Nnewi-South and Ekwusigo federal constituency and the training was sponsored by Chris Emeka Azubogu incumbent representative of the constituency at the national assembly.
Provost of the institution Dr. Owan O.T in his address to the participants said that the college makes provision for such capacity building programmes on a yearly basis as part of its social responsibility scheme to rural communities in bringing farmers, people in thrift and credit societies, consumer societies to mention a few for training sessions in the college. He said Federal Cooperative College Oji River was above 40 years and that the institution offers courses in Cooperative Economics and Management, Banking and Finance, Business Administration, Computer Science and a host of others. He stressed that the college was gradually transiting from a monotechnic to a polytechnic judging from the state of the college as a degree awarding institution.
Thereafter, participants’ avid attention to various topical issues relating to improved methods of farmers’ multi-purpose cooperatives as it concerns profit-making and business expansion was brought to the fore as each of the participants took hook-line and sinker the nitty-gritty of the resource persons’ presentation. Eneh Paul Chukwudi, Registrar Federal Cooperative College Oji River who presented a paper on ‘The Role of Effective Leadership In Management Of Farmers’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society ‘, maintained that cooperatives are guided by principles and values which demand pursuance of more than commercial success.
According to him, the primary objective is to build financial value even though he pointed out that election or selection of leaders based on sentiments, ignorance, illiteracy, absence of friendly and encouraging environment for cooperative development, under-capitalisation, smallness of cooperative societies, excessive government control, lack of good accounting and record-keeping system which he said engendered fraudulent practices, political interference and some other salient problematic issues are associated with the leadership and management of farmers’ multi-purpose cooperatives. But he explained that the place of effective leadership in the attainment of farmers’ multi-purpose cooperative society cannot be overemphasized. Hence, he recommended attitudinal change for leaders of farmers’ multi-purpose cooperative society to ensure the overall attainment of the objective of the society.
Participants were also treated to a lecture on ‘Functions/Responsibilities of Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative Society’ delivered by Okoro Stanley which exposed them to the numerous obligations of members of cooperative societies. Some of these functions include encouraging improved method of agriculture, marketing and business, setting up of subsidiary cottage and small scale industries, encouraging members for savings, making arrangements for credit and loan facilities to mention a few. These functions he said would foster synergy and bonding necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the society. Furthermore, Dr. Egor Hikarofem Ise who presented a paper on ‘Management Structure For Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperatives’, stated that the cooperative management structure refers to the members that are directly involved in the running of the business of the organization. In other words he said that the cooperative manager must be dynamic as well as deal with complex issues with dexterity to guarantee equitable treatment for all and sundry . He however noted that cooperatives are classified in accordance with the nature of business they undertake adding that the classification simply means that there are distinguishing differences in their operations, management and control; that what is important is for members of cooperatives to have a knowledge of the cooperative structure as well as their own business.
Chief lecturer Federal Cooperative College Oji River, Ekabua Isaac Ettah whose lecture hinged on the ‘Formation and Registration of Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative Society’, explained that multi-purpose cooperatives are formed for many purposes and they perform several functions. He further disclosed that a multi-purpose cooperative society can combine other forms like agricultural thrift and credit, marketing, consumer, supply societies together as against single-purpose cooperatives. He however posited that the formation of a farmers’ multi-purpose cooperative society involved the identification of felt-needs and drive to solve them through self-help. Other steps to forming farmers multi-purpose cooperatives according to him include preliminary meetings, election of organising committee, visit of divisional cooperative officer while procedure for registration of a farmers multi-purpose cooperative society involved economic survey report, seal of the society, application forms and model by-laws.
Internal auditor of the Federal Cooperative College Oji River Mr. Daniel Okeze who spoke to the participants about most appropriate auditing system for farmers multi-purpose cooperatives made mention of two basic auditing system universally applied by firms. These auditing systems he said are the annual audit and concurrent audit system respectively. Okeze explained that there are only three federal cooperative colleges across the country solely established by the federal government for the purposes of teaching cooperative studies. He said the Federal Cooperative College Oji River covers eleven states of the southeast and south-south regions while the one in Ibadan is responsible for all the southwestern states and the Kaduna counterpart covers nineteen states of the Northern region.
According to him, the federal government seeks to improve and promote cooperative studies knowing that it is an engine room to harness growth of small and medium scale business enterprise stressing that government is investing massively in cooperative studies. The FCC internal auditor further disclosed that the institution is getting more funding from the federal government because they believe that members of cooperatives should be given formal training on the workings and modus operandi of cooperative societies. He maintained that the impact of cooperative societies on the national economy cannot be over-stressed even though he was of the opinion that people paid less attention to it but emphasized that cooperative societies would help produce more entrepreneurs for the nation. The workshop equally featured a lecture on ‘Fish Farming and Snail Production’ presented by Ogobegwu Ifeoma while the team leader of the participants Mr. Ajero Ernest described the capacity building exercise as a welcome development. He noted that they were enriched academically and otherwise and that the knowledge and experience garnered from the workshop would help increase their financial base and business ideas.