1.0 Background of the Study
A co-operative society is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. One dictionary defines a cooperative as "a jointly owned enterprise engaging in the production or distribution of goods or the supplying of services, operated by its members for their mutual benefit, typically organized by consumers or farmers". Cooperatives frequently have social goals which they aim to accomplish by investing a proportion of trading profits back into their communities.
International Cooperatives Alliance and International Labour Organization (2003) defines cooperative societies as an autonomous association of individuals who voluntarily comes together as united force in order to meet their mutual social, cultural and economic needs and wants through the help of a jointly owned and democratically managed enterprise.
This type of group mostly of interested persons characterized by limited means of livelihood usually make equitable contribution to the resources required and thereby accepts fair or equal share of the benefits and risks that may come with the undertaking in which the members participate.
Ezekiel (2014) thus indicates that cooperative societies remain most important catalyst for individual and community entrepreneurial growth; “because it retains within the communities in which they operate the capital that they mobilize themselves, as well as surplus derived from outside transactions, both accumulating for further entrepreneurial development”.
On the other hand, cooperative is a phenomenon that denotes any form of working together voluntarily by persons or individuals to achieve common goals. To narrow it down cooperative refers to the activities of an association of persons with similar social, cultural and economic needs who willingly come together to. The poverty trend in Nigeria is further aggravated due to lack of basic needs for decent life; access to clean or portable water, healthcare services, education opportunities, shelter, housing (MDG, 2013, UNDP, 2015).
Despite successive government’s efforts in reducing poverty, its situation in Nigeria is quite worrisome as the story of poverty alleviation seems to be gloomy over the years (Abbas, 2013). It is therefore not surprising that co-operative society in Nigeria are faced by various agents of state and private authorities from which they hinder the progress of people. Unfortunately, since poor people lack independence, power and voice which to rely on for daily survival, they become cheap for all kinds of political and economic exploitation. The gravity of poverty and its situation is however dynamic across the globe. Co-operative Societies have played a fundamental role in enhancing the socio-economic status of members. The group encourages people to save, mobilize the fund saved through loan at low rate of interest to members, in order to run his or her Agricultural practices or business and have access to external sources of fund. (Shah, 2001)
Looking through the activities of cooperative societies, the Nigerian system which is fundamentally democratic in nature must also embody the wishes and aspirations of the people. In the case of cooperative societies, the situation should not be in anyway different as efforts made by government have failed over time to alleviate poverty from the society. For instance in the new thinking Sapru (2008) emphasised that demands for policy action are usually made on political system by different constituents including civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, pressure groups, political parties, citizens, etc. Thus, since poverty still remains a serious menace in Nigeria, and particularly in Enugu State, despite various efforts made by successive governments to reduce it, the role that such non-governmental organizations and bodies like cooperative societies play in poverty alleviation in recent time becomes imperative. Poverty is a menace that continues to pose serious threat to the development prospects of Nigeria in general Enugu State in particular. The alarming incidence of poverty in Enugu State especially among the most vulnerable in the society; women, children, youths is serving as hindrance to socio-economic development of most of its communities.
Co-operative society has helped farmers, traders, business men and women, civil servants to obtained loan from banks to member’s especially individual member without collateral to established their business. Co-operative society has helped to provide better services to members, which has enable them increase their incomes based, foster business entrepreneurial skill and also satisfy needs of the poor.
In the case of Nigeria, several poverty alleviation policies were designed, initiated and implemented over time with the hope to improve living standard of its citizens. Some of the past programmes for instance includes: National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructures (DFRRI), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Family Support Programme (FSP), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP), Better Life Programme (BLP), Peoples Bank and Community Banks initiatives, Green Revolution (GR), and Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) , etc.(Ugoh and Ukpere, 2009, Abbas, 2013).
1.2 Statement of Problem
It is in the light of the above understanding that led the Nigerian Government at all levels to promote the use of cooperative in poverty reduction efforts. Nevertheless cooperatives in Nigeria are still known to be bedeviled with problems including, lack of capital, lack of access to credit facilities, poor management, misappropriation of funds, etc. While efforts are being made by stakeholders of cooperative in Nigeria to remove and/or reduce these problems, there is an apparent consensus that the need for adequate and sufficient knowledge of the role of cooperatives in poverty alleviation still exists. For example there is a need to identify and analyses in sufficient details those cooperative activities and functions that bear directly on the economic empowerment of members, as well as identifying factors that could promote and enhance cooperative efforts in poverty reduction. Unless these issues are known and appreciated, the emphasis on cooperative as a poverty alleviating platform may continue to be unrealistic.
1.3 Research Questions
1.4 General Objective
The general objective of this study is to investigate the role of co-operative societies in poverty alleviation.
1.5 Objective of the Study
i. To identify the role played by co-operative societies in poverty alleviation.
ii. To examine the problems facing co-operative societies in poverty alleviation.
iii. To investigate the benefit of co-operative societies to members.
1.6 Research Hypothesis
Ho: Co-operative society has no significant role in poverty alleviation.
H1: Co-operative society has significant role in poverty alleviation.
Ho: Co-operative society has no significant problems facing co-operative societies in poverty alleviation.
H1: Co-operative society has no significant problems facing co-operative societies in poverty alleviation.
Ho: Co-operative society has no significant relationship with poverty alleviation.
H1: Co-operative society has significant relationship with poverty alleviation.
Ho: Co-operate society has no benefit to members
H1: Co-operate society has benefit to members
1.7 Significance of the Study
The study will encourage individuals (civil servants, farmers, business men and women, traders etc) to join co-operative societies in order to obtain loan to alleviate their social economic status with adequate information about co-operative societies to meet the needs of individual or group of individuals.
1.8 Scope of the Study
The study is designed to investigate the role of co-operation societies in poverty alleviation in Enugu East Local Government Area Enugu State. It is directed to co-operative members within the geographical location of Enugu East Local Government Area.
1.9 Limitation of Study
A research work of this nature cannot come to an end without limitation. The researcher encountered numerous problems which affected the smooth running of the work. These problems includes, difficulty in procuring materials for the project, time factor and financial constraints
1.10 Operational Definition of Terms
Cooperative: An association of individuals united voluntarily to meet their economic, cultural, social needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprises.
Poverty: Aluwalia (1973) “Defines Poverty by the number of people living below a specified minimum level of income an imaginary poverty line knows nationals boundaries and is independent of the level of national per capital income. However, it magnitude may be much less in terms of total number or percentage of the total populations”
Alleviation: This as a term in this research work means the reduction or lessening and elimination of any factors that leads to poverty and deprivation among the populace so as to increase their income level.
Members: These are persons who are fully registered in the society and who have completed all the necessary registration process.
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