… Warns of EFCC hammer on recalcitrant ones
By Zakari Aliyu
Recertification/revalidation of cooperative societies in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which was embarked upon by the FCT Administration (FCTA)’s Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS) through the office of Chief Registrar of Cooperatives is aimed at streamlining the activities of such groups.
Aside this, the exercise is to enhance effective monitoring and check cases of fraudulent practices, among others.
Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, Honourable Nzekwe Stanley Ifeanyichukwu stated this in an interview with newsmen in his office recently.
According to him, the exercise became imperative in view of several reports of maladministration and sharp practices perpetrated by officials of some cooperative societies.
His words: “In line with the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act of 2004, the responsibility of monitoring the activities of cooperative societies is saddled on government. Therefore it has become expedient that we take necessary measures to sanitize their operations and as a government, we will be leaving no stone unturned to address these issues.”
The Secretariat, he added, had in August, 2018, constituted a panel to investigate the matter.
Hon. Ifeanyichukwu revealed that the findings of the panel threw up certain things, some of which were that some of the cooperative societies are operating in FCT without due authorization from the office of the FCT Chief Registrar of Cooperatives, and also that operations of the cooperatives run short of basic acceptable financial regulations especially in the aspect of transparent record keeping.
He revealed further that the panel found that some of them have no fixed contact address and other vital information which made monitoring of their activities difficult, while the stipulated tenure of administration of the officials was not being adhered to, making it easy for some of the officials to perpetrate fraud.
The Secretary also stated that most members of cooperative societies are ignorant of modern and global cooperative best practices.
Alluding to the Nigerian Cooperative Societies Act of 2004 which places the responsibilities of registration, monitoring, supervision as well as arbitration of cooperatives on state governments, the FCTA, through the Secretariat, Hon. Ifeanyichukwu stated, has strengthened its oversight functions of cooperative societies in FCT.
“We recognize the role of cooperative societies as an important component towards sustainable community development, which is why we are determined to ensure that only persons with proven characters manage the affairs of cooperatives in the FCT,” he remarked.
To this end, the Secretariat, he said, undertook some measures to sanitize the operation of cooperative societies in FCT, pointing out that the measures included the organizing of workshops to sensitise members with the rules, and regulations governing the establishment and operations of cooperative societies.
Others are reconstitution of the Secretariat Cooperative Arbitration Committee to effectively handle the several lingering and unresolved disputes, setting up of a comprehensive digitalized database of all cooperative societies in FCT, and the recertification of cooperative societies in the Territory.
Therefore, all cooperatives societies are required to register with the FCTA Office of the Chief Registrar after which they will be issued with new certificates, he stressed.
While suing for the full cooperation of the cooperative societies in the revalidation process, the Secretary warned that the Administration will no longer tolerate acts of corrupt practices as erring officials will be handed over to anti-corruption agencies for prosecution.
Also, he said, any cooperative that is not recertified will be de-registered.
The process of revalidation which is still ongoing at the Chief Registrar’s Office in Area 11, FCTA, he stated, involves the assessment of all relevant documents after which a new certificate will be issued to those that meet up with the requirements.
The Secretary disclosed that so far, many cooperative societies are responding positively since the exercise began in 2018.