Speech by CFN president Eng. Jibrin Bala Abuja at the opening ceremony of a pre-congress workshop on “inclusion: co-operatives ensure no one is left behind”, holding at justice Kutigi International Centre, Minna, Niger state on 6th November, 2017



I am most grateful to Allah, and I feel very delighted to address you for the last time in my capacity as President of Co-operative Federation of Nigeria (CFN), on this August occasion.

                  This workshop is organized in recognition of the importanc4e of co-operative education and training precedes CFN congress tomorrow. We cannot overemphasize the need for training and capacity building as a means of empowering co-operative members, elected officers, employees, and even government that is changing very fast, and so we must adapt to the changes in the environment, if we are to be competitive in the global area.

                  Within the eight short years that In have been on the helm of affairs of CFN, I have had many opportunities to learn, and I continue t lean, from conferences, seminars and workshops, organized by the Alliance Africa. I do not consider such forums as a waste of time or talk shops, but rare opportunities to learn from others, and share my ideas with my counterparts from other co-operatives, and countries from across Africa and beyond.

                  I therefore, congratulate every participant to this workshop, and urge all of you to make the most of the opportunity which this workshop offers.

                  The 5th Principle of Co-operatives is “Education, Information”, and Training”. In my years as President of CFN, and Vice Chairman ICA African Regional Board, I have discovered that most Co-operative members and even some leaders are uninformed about the application of co-operative principles and values.

                  Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Co-operative enterprises provide unique opportunities for helping to create jobs and provide employment for the growing members of the unemployed, especially women and youths. In Nigeria today, credit co-operatives are providing opportunities for millions for members to save and take loans from their co-operative societies. Also, through co-operatives thousands of cooperative members are able to build houses. Without co-operatives many people in Nigeria today would be completely excluded from the socio- economic development of the country.

                  It has been reported that there are about 10 millions individual co-operative members in Nigeria, and this translates to about, 40 million people.

                  I will not end this speech without expressing my gratitude to the Executive Governor of Niger State, His Excellency, Alhaji (Dr.) Abubakar Sani Bello for his supportive role played by Him as Honourable Commissioner Ministry, of Investment and Co-operatives, when I expressed the desire to contest for the presidency of CFN in 2009. It is equally gratifying to see him rise to become the Executive Governor at the time of my exit as CFN President. Mr. Governor is evidently a lover of co-operatives. Only in February 2017, Niger State hosted the National Council on Co-operative Affairs (NCCA); and today, we are here again for the CFN congress.

Ladies and gentlemen, I must say that I have been surrounded by people without whose support and cooperation I may not have successfully completed the two terms of my eight years as CFN President, Dr. Chiyoge B. Sifa, Regional Director of the Alliance Africa is one of such people. Her passion, commitment and dedication to the Cooperative Movement in Africa, Nigeria in particular, is exemplary. Time would fail me to talk of the great support from Africa Prudential Plc, not only to me but to the entire Co-operative Movement of Nigeria. AP Plc. has developed software that supports co-operative management.

                  In conclusion, I wish to use this opportunity to call on government to ensure the diligent implementation of the Co-operative Development Policy for Nigeria, with a view to taking advantage of the co-operative values, and principles, especially the value of non-discrimination on the basis of tribe, race gender, political affiliation, or social standing. On one hand, governments, at Federal and State levels, have made policies, however, implementation lacks energy. For example the Co-operative Development Fund that should have facilitated access by co-operatives to credit is yet to be established since 2002 when the current policy was inaugurated. State Governments on their part should ensure the setting up of State Co-operative Advisory Boards, and State Council on Co-operative Affairs. This will invigorate the diligent implementation of the policy, boost job creation and employment generation, and reduce poverty in the country.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for your kind attention.