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The cooperative has played a key role in rural development and always recognized as an integral part of our local economy. Cooperative has ideological base, economic objects with social outlook and approach. The cooperative form of organization is the ideal organization for economically weaker sections. Hence, the success of cooperative societies depends on the proper implementation of principles. These views gave rise to this study which aimed at investigating the role of cooperative societies towards rural development. Literature review gave me an insight in to the construction of instrument required for the study. Three hypotheses were tested namely: there is a significant influence of cooperative societies on rural dwellers; there is a significant relationship between cooperative societies and rural areas; there is a significant influence of the cooperative societies on the development of the rural areas.
BACKGROUND OF STUDY
The origin and growth of cooperatives are as old as human race. Cooperative started as an urban consumer retail enterprise but later spread to rural areas amongst farmers Lawal, K. A. A. (2012) Cop 216 Noun Web.
Since the year of operations and practice of cooperative societies, business in Nigeria, no doubt had undergone series of dynamic changes to equip and expose middle and high level manpower of various levels grounded in the theory and practice of cooperative studies that will be substantial/relevance to industry Lawal, K. A. A. (2012) Cop 318 Noun Web.
There are different definitions of cooperative. According to International Labour Organization (ILO), cooperative is an association of persons who have voluntarily joined together to achieve a common end through the formation of a democratically controlled organization, making equitable contributions to the capital required and accepting affair share of the risks and benefit of the undertaking in which the members actively participate.
According to Edet 2007 in her study of the role of cooperative societies towards the rural development, cooperative is a form of business organization own by a group of people to serve the benefits of their members and assist in liberating of oppression of the economically strong people.
Alternatively, a society is a group of people who join together for a particular purpose (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary).
There are several types of cooperative societies namely: thrift and credit, agricultural, producers, consumers, multi-purpose cooperative societies etc. the thrift and credit cooperative society is found in almost all the rural areas. Members mobilize funds among themselves. Such funds come from the members in form of entrance fee, savings, fines etc funds can also be procured from financial houses or financial institutions. Its formation falls within the range of 10-50 persons.
The cooperative principles include: association of persons limited means, voluntarily joined together, achieve a common economic end, democratically controlled, equitable contribution to the capital and accepting a fair share of the risks and benefits. All cooperatives are organized in order to best serve the interest of their member and their communities and should actively cooperate in every practical way with other cooperatives at Local, National and International Levels, Lawal, K. A. A. (2012) Cop 318 Noun Web.
Cooperative societies have played crucial roles to a range of human needs and aspirations they have proven to provide vital services in health, education, gender equality, the environment, agriculture to name a few. By providing such vital services they have contributed to the well being of members and to their individual objectives, they stand to play a vital role in finding solutions to unemployment and promoting other much needed skills. They ensure their members are in a better position to meet their everyday needs, especially in rural areas where jobs are scarce and basic services lacking.
Most cooperatives exit to capture various opportunities in the economy, to address the needs and aspirations of their member’s and their communities. They aim to empower the people by enable even the unprivileged segments of the population to participate in economic activities Malum Nalu (2012).
They can create job opportunities for those who have skills but little or no capital and provide the necessary support to promote self help in communities. Cooperative societies are founded on good intentions and they are seen to be critical to rural development, improve access to markets and social services. Where cooperatives are seen to be achieving their objectives, there is no reason why the government or other development partners should not support them. Their roles are important and they should be seen as an agent of change in rural areas where hardly any government services are seen James Laraki (2012). Today, in an era where many people feel powerless to change their lives, cooperatives represent a strong vibrant and viable economic alternative Malum Nalu (2012).
For over 160 years now, cooperatives have been an effective way for people to exert control over their economic livelihoods. They provide a unique tool for achieving one or more economic goals in an increasingly competitive global economy. Cooperatives are being considered useful mechanism to manage risk for members in agricultural or other similar cooperatives, help salary/wage earners save for the future through a soft-felt monthly contribution that is deducted from source, own what might be difficult for individuals to own by their efforts, strengthen the communities in which they operate through job provision and payment of local taxes.
Cooperative generally, provides an economic boost to the community as well. They started gaining ground among working class citizens, most of who find it difficult to save part of their salaries/wage for the rainy day.
Hitherto, cooperative societies were though to be associations meant only for farmers, small traders and other very low-income earners (Journal – Department of Public Administration, Ahmadu Bellow University, Zaria – Nigeria). This work is based in two groups of villages (Ikot Edibon and Ndiya), a rural set up in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. These inhabitants of these areas are the Ibibio speaking tribes who dominate the northern part of Akwa Ibom State. They are the major producers of oil palm which is one of the most important cash crops in Nigeria that has contributed much to the economy and the individual farmers because of its multifarious use to which parts of the oil palm free can be put. Several operative societies exist in these localities, but this study is only concerned with one cooperative society in Ikot Edibon and the Multi-purpose cooperative society in Ndiya. Cooperative society in this area was formed by groups of people with a common purpose to address specific needs or problems. They also exist to capture various opportunities in the area to address the needs and aspirations of their members and the community.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The success or failure of many of these cooperatives depends on how they are managed, including financial resources. Many failures are reported to have come about due to poor management. Cooperatives should be responsible to their members and to society at large. Their role and presence in many rural areas, provides them some sense of hope, especially to rural folks.
Their role and presence in many rural areas, provides them some sense of hope, especially to rural folks. The Onus is on the cooperatives to demonstrate to their members, their communities, the government and the people that they have a purpose to exist and that they are equal partners in development.
It is in these situations which sharpen the curiosity of the investigator, and the study therefore intends to find solutions to the follow questions.
Ø To what extent do the cooperatives demonstrate their role towards the development of the rural areas in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State?
Ø Do the cooperatives actually operate under a democratically controlled structure for a satisfactory performance?
Ø Is there any significant relationship between the cooperatives and the society?
Ø Are there any potential benefits of cooperative to the people in the area?
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS/HYPOTHESIS
v Can the cooperative societies make improve result despite a difficult economic environment?
v Does the cooperative demonstrate their contributions to economic and social development?
v Has the cooperatives been able to fight corruption decisively to restore confidence in the society?
v Is the management of cooperatives sincere enough to fight corruption to attract the much needed development?
v Consequent upon the above research questions, the following hypothesis were postulated.
v There is a significant relationship between the cooperative societies and the rural areas. There is a significant influence of the co-operative societies on the development of the rural areas.
v There is significant influence of the cooperative societies on the rural dwellers.
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Cooperatives are viewed as important tools for improving the living and working conditions of both women and men. They make decisions that balance the need for profitability with the welfare of their members and the community, which they serve. As cooperatives foster economies of scope and scale, they increase the bargaining power of their members providing them, among other benefits, higher income and social protection.
Hence, cooperative accord members opportunity, protection and empowerment – essential element in uplifting them from degradation and poverty Somavia (2002).
At the end of the study, the exercise intends to find out what the role of cooperative societies is towards rural development. As a result of these the study will settle down and investigate if there is any development process through cooperative societies. It will find out whether there is any correlation between the cooperative society and the community.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Few studies tend to concentrate on the role of cooperative societies as many students offering cooperative programme tend to do so as last resort. Lawal, K. A. A. (2012) Cop 318 Noun Web.
The study thus addresses itself to verify the role of cooperative societies towards development of rural areas. Findings made from the study are expected to be of immense benefit to cooperators, cooperative extension workers, researchers and especially the Ndiya and Ikot Edibon group of villages in formulating cooperative bye-laws that will ensure proper management of the cooperative society. Future investigators in this area stand to benefit from this study in their further advancement of knowledge of the cooperative role. It will also help reduce poor management of the cooperatives in terms of getting a good cooperative extension worker. Finally, the outcome of this study will help to curb cooperative among cooperators and establish a cordial relationship among them.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is only concerned with the cooperative societies in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. It did not cover other rural areas. The random samples of cooperative (thrift and credit cooperatives society and the multi-purpose cooperatives society) were drawn from only two villages (Ndiya and Ikot Edibon) in Nsit Ubium.
1.7 RESEARCH METHOD
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