1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Co-operative organization as defined by Okeke, et al (2001) are institutions within whose framework co-operators or joint activities by people take place in a formalized deliberate social and economic sphere of human endeavor for socioeconomic development. Okeke, (2001) identified salient features of co-operative organizations as an association of free and independent persons that is voluntary, joint actions for their mutual benefits on equitable and democratic basis, existence of a business enterprise and the promotion of economics interest of members and its societies at large.
Cooperative organizations exist within any aspects of our economy, so long as there is felt need and willingness amongst the people to cooperate. There are therefore various types of cooperative organization in Nigeria prominent among which are: Agricultural cooperative, Consumers cooperatives and Cooperative thrift and loan societies. Cooperative organization can also be defined as a business organization where various entrepreneur cooperators pool their resources together with view of making profit for their own sustainability and economic survival such as the cooperative thrift and loan societies.
Cooperative organizations/societies emerged as self-help entities to combat economic and social inadequacies (Baarda, 2006). Cooperative organizations serves as an effective community development vehicle by their nature they build economic self-reliance and civil society. The benefits of cooperative organizations accrue to the larger society because they create local jobs, re invest locally, emphasis on education and skills raises local management capacity, reduce migration and concentration of capital. People come together in cooperative societies to pool their resources together so as to meet individual needs that could not be resolved by individual limited financial capacity (Birchall, 2004). The aim of cooperative societies is to produce goods and deliver services, and to satisfy the legitimate needs of members and also to promote cooperation, relations, participation and consequently to promote interpersonal connections. Cooperative societies provide services that benefit both members and the local community. It was also observed that it is an essential tool for development of less economically developed communities (Ibrahim, 2004).
Naturally, developing sustainable economic cooperation among individuals will be more profitable further than the creation of conflicts. It is only for this strictly pragmatic reason (and not for any other moral reasons as in the case of other social philosophies), that it is justified to found institutions that minimize conflicts and promote cooperation (Fairbairn, 1994).
The aim of introducing co-operative organization in Nigeria according to Strickland was “…not only a matter of increased or improved crops, nor even of increased credit to cultivators who wanted to change their farming methods… but it is also a question of urban and rural thrift of co-operative building, of labour contractors, afforestation and prevention of erosion and the preservation and expansion of handicraft of the supply of electric light, the organization of individuals for a better diet, for precaution against dieses and for sanitary measures in towns and country of the extension of education and of group agreements for the removal of social evils and the spreading of better customs. As may be seen, co-operatives were expected to be introduced in all the spheres of the people’s lives in Nigeria.
Hence, the value of co-operative as an effective channel of rural transformation is widely recognized in advanced and less developed countries of the world. In Nigeria for instance, one of the government objectives state the need for the use of co-operative societies, particularly for socio-economic development of rural areas.