Development of Co-Operatives in Nigeria

Development of Co-Operatives in Nigeria

Ever before the coming of the white men to Nigeria, the Nigerian has been practicing co-operative in various forms and in the various aspect of their lives.  In Igbo land for instance, communities co-operated to put up buildings for their members through communal efforts.  Tillage, planting and harvesting of crops were also undertaken communally.  They existed a system of credit co-operation known as “ISUSU” by which members of a community banned themselves into a union for the purpose of raising fund for their members.

There is a discernible pattern of co-operative development in African and Asian countries which were former colonies of the Europe.  Nigeria is no exception.

In Nigeria the first hint on co-operative emergence occurred during the first world war. This co-operative which happen to be a consumer was modeled along the Rochdale of England – home of the colonialist.  This earliest co-operative society existed to ration out consumer goods – which was very scarce during the world war.  Soon after the war ended the consumer co-operatives died a natural death.

Thereafter, in 1926, the then colonial Agricultural ministry began organizing cocoa farmers around Abeokuta and Ibadan in Western Nigeria to market their produce especially to Europe where the colonial masters needed it for home industries .  this was also the patterned development of co-operative in British colonies.  After this experiment, the whole western Nigeria embraced co-operative especially marketing types.

The colonial masters appointed MR. F.C. Strickland to go and understudy the success  story of cocoa marketing co-operatives of the western region with a view to enacting co-operative  law for three months – Dec. 1933 to March 1934.   Mr. Strickland carried out an on-the-spot  assessment.

In his report, Mr. Strickland strongly recommended the introduction of co-operatives into Nigeria.  In his report which  he submitted in April 1934, he strongly advocated for co-operative introduction without any further delay.  Till date Mr. C.F Strickland’s report form the backbone of introduction of co-operative to Nigeria.  Mr. Strickland also drafted a proposed ordinance and regulation.  The colonial administration wasted no time in accepting and implementing it.

In line with above understanding Mr. E.F.G Haig was appointed as a registrar of co-operatives in Nigeria to be able to undertake these responsibilities, he was sent abroad to understudy the Indian co-operative movement and law.

Mr. F.C. Strickland’s reports no doubt, kick started co-operative activities in Nigeria. On return from India, the first thing he did was to re-organize the cocoa farmers societies, who were already excelling in the production and marketing of best quality cocoa.  Next was to bring these societies under ambit of the co-operative law.The co-operative societies ordinance No.39 of 1935 was signed into law by king of England on 3rd December, 1935 and the regulations made there under came into force of 6th February, 1936.  from a humble beginning in 1926, co-operative rose to an astonishing number of 181 in 1944.

In 1951, the political landscape of Nigeria changed.  And every nation under Nigeria was allowed to develop under regions.  So co-operatives went the same way viz: West, East, North and South.


BERKO, (1995: 188).

Co-operative societies when they are formed usually operate for sometime before they are registered.  This specially applies to primary societies which often may have to operate for about six to twelve months before they are registered.  Secondary societies are usually registered much faster.  By their nature, they cannot operate as an unregistered or unincorporated body for a long time.

Conditions for registration are generally the same for both primary and secondary societies, except in a few instances.

In most co-operative laws they are legal conditions which must be satisfied before a society is registered.  They are referred to as normative or statutory conditions or requirements.  These are treated below:


To prevent people from registering organizations which are not intended to function as co-operative societies, the registrar/director has to ensure that the society which he is to register is a co-operative.  The acid test to determine whether an organization is a co-operative or not is given in section 5(1) of ENCL.  That organization must have as it’s objective the promotion of the economic interest of or the provision of services for it’s members in accordance with co-operative principles.

The above condition means that:

a)     A member of a co-operative must at the same time be it’s customer

(auxiliary/service co-operatives) or it’s employee (production co-


b)            The promotion of economic interest of it’s members must be the objective of the society.  Therefore if there is an organization which does not exhibit these qualities, the organization cannot be registered as a co-operative society.

c)             Finally, the society must operate in accordance with co-operative principles, we known what these principles are.


  1. In auxiliary (service) primary societies the minimum membership is ten.
  2. In a productive primary society, the minimum is six in a secondary society, the minimum is 5 registered primary societies (NCSD 3(3).


Proposed societies must have the term “CO-OPERATIVE” or it’s vernacular equivalent as part of it’s name, including the word “Limited” as the last word in the name of a society with limited, according to the Nigeria co-operative societies Decree of 1993.


Application for registration of a society is made on a prepared form which is obtained at the Registrar’s office.  This form has provision for signature of those applying for registration.  In an auxiliary primary society, this must be signed by at least ten persons and in a productive primary society by six persons.  In a secondary society the application must be signed by:-

“A duly authorized person on behalf of every registered society which is a member, and, where all the members of the society are not registered societies, by ten other members, or where there are less than ten other members by all of them” (ENCL Sec. 7).


The application must include the address of the society.  The Registrar must know where the society is located.  The application must also be accompanied by three copies of the by-laws of the proposed society.


AGE:-  The co-operative laws roles and bye-laws lay down the qualification for membership.  To be qualified for membership of a society, an individual must have attained the (minimum) age of 16 years (NCSD No. 90, 1993).

In a school society however, the minimum age is 8 years also, in a productive society, an apprentice below 16  years shall qualify as a member of the society.

RESIDENCE:-  For member to make effective use of their co-operative and to enable them to be involved in the management of these societies, the law requires that members must be “resident within, or in occupation of land within the area of operation of the registered society which therefore has it’s members not resident in it’s area of operation runs the risk of not being registered (NCSD 1993, 22 (1B).

—This article is not complete———–This article is not complete————
This article was extracted from a Project Research Work/Material Topic



Click Here To get the full Project Research Work/Material

To Get Economics Project Research Materials, Click Here!

6 Comments on “Development of Co-Operatives in Nigeria”

  1. oseni modupeoluwa says:

    Pls sir/ma,
    I need only the reference on the background of the study

  2. PETER ALKALI says:


  3. This will help the student who what know the backgrownd of the existing cooperative societies in nigeria.

  4. Adeyemi Grace Olanik says:

    I read it and learnt it in Cooperative colleges here in Nigeria that Gbedun Produce and Marketing Society was registered in 1937 by the cooperative registrer at that time that Major E.F. Haig, but now in your write up you said it was 1936, which one is confirmed to be correct? Kindly reply me

  5. abubakar yusuf says:

    I like and understand that book to undestanding, and help me in co-operative development in nigeria

  6. Please what is the relevance of law to the development of cooperative management in Nigeria ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *