From the Director: Rev. Fr. Ihebinike.
The idea of co-operation is a Immutable principle/value in the socio- Economic lives of Africans, where the conceivable socio-economic sustainability of an individual outside his immediate cooperate society. He can only exist within a community of people, sharing common interest as well as common human and natural resource. For any meaningful community development to take place, be it intra or inter community development, the traditional cooperative system is inevitable. Base on the “social need concept” of man, no one can justifiably brand him/herself “self-made”. In every sphere of life there is a certain degree of “participatory process Because this participatory process has often been relegated almost to oblivion by most African leaders, their socio-economic development projects barely touch on the lives of majority of those for whom they are initiated .
J.C. Obiefuna’s injunction finds relevance at this instance: “The existing bureaucracies and professionals need to shift from being project implementers and delivers of standard services and technologies to viewing roles that facilitate local people’s analysis, deliberation, planning, action, monitoring and evaluation. The whole process should strengthen local groups and institutions, so enhancing the capacity of the citizens to take action on their own”. (T. I. Okere & Levi Nkwocha Editors: harvesting & sharing indigenous Knowledge in Africa. Article by J. C. Obiefuna: Research Methodology and Empirical Database for indigenous Knowledge system of small holder Agriculture .page267). It is rather unfortunate that the bane of cooperative societies in the past has been the cornering of the Cooperative business individual cooperative leaders thereby short-circuiting the whole affair and making it a source of netting in private revenue. This driving force behind the formation and running of cooperative societies must be corrected in the present dispensation if it would be truly an instrument aimed at alleviating poverty.
Another effective way of eradicating poverty is to erect a middle class to bridge the gap between the very rich and the very poor. Here, the ever growing emphasis on the relevance of the micro finance institutions cannot be considered as sweet nonsense. The idea behind the establishment of the micro finance banks is as noble as those that preceded it, which however in the course of their implementation had to hit the rock.
What is this motive? In his article, David Haruna writes that “the underlying objective for employing micro finance as poverty reduction strategy is to assist the economically active poor, who cannot make savings accumulate asset or invest in any meaningful income generation activity that would help to break the circle of poverty”.
The question now is: Does Micro Finance policy promise to effect anything different from the age long unfulfilled promises of employment for all by the year…; poverty eradication for all by the year…, health and wealth for all by the year…; fish for all by the year…; may be also becoming a millionaire for all by the year…; helicopter for all by the year…?
Warning Note :
If Micro finance has been packaged to be a financial system that is meant to impact positively on the socio-economic lives of the majority, serous care should be taken in the implementation of its principles. Let it not be another opportunity for some hawks in the name of small business owners and entrepreneurs to cluster and rip the unsuspecting poor masses of their little resources, whose intention for embracing the system is to piece some fund together and invest in any meaningful economic activity that will break the vicious circle of poverty in their lives. If Micro finance fails to achieve that for which it is established, the lives of the majority of our citizenry will be rocked.
Formation of JDPC coordinated cooperative societies convinced of the importance of functional cooperative societies in enhancing the socio-economic welfare of the people, the Justice, Development, Peace/Caritas; Catholic Diocese of Orlu mounted an awareness campaign through seminars and workshops in partnership with the Nwannegadi Micro Finance Bank, Orlu.
The seminars/workshops were so effective and productive. One of the fruits of the campaign is the formation of 37 primary Cooperative Societies, cutting across the 10 Local Government Areas in Orlu senatorial Zone. All of these are registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Imo State. By this we are reckoning with about 480 individual members.
Going a step further, we had to form these primary Cooperative societies into a secondary group know as Justice, Development, Peace and Caritas Cooperative Union, Orlu. This cooperative Union is also registered with the ministry of Commerce and Industries, Imo State as well as affiliated shareholder with the Cooperative Federation of Imo State.
The implications of these are that Union will operate to further the interest of the affiliate members. Through the cooperative efforts of the primary societies, the Union can now own and manage institutions, corporate businesses, financial houses, farm projects, etc for the economic benefit of the members. More so, with the partnership and understanding existing between Nwannegadi Micro finance Bank, Orlu and Justice, Development, Peace/Caritas, Orlu funds (loans and grants) could be more easily and readily sourced by the JDPC cooperative union on behalf of the affiliated members.
They say: the taste of the pudding is the eating. Now that the Federal Government has adopted the micro finance policy; now that the justice, Development, Peace/Caritas, Orlu is building bridges between the church and the state, between various financial institute and the active poor group in our society, we wish to say good luck to those who through this avenue would be able to move from the abjectly poor group at least to the comfortable middle class.