From the inception of formal Co-operative in Nigeria and the promulgation of the Co-operative Ordinance by the Colonial administration in 1935, the Co-operative Movement had made a number of landmark contributions to various sectors of the national economy particularly in the areas of Agriculture, Micro-savings, Micro-credit, Housing, Health, Hospitality, Education, Insurance, Finance, Transportation, Exports, Trade and Investments. In cognisance of this, the National Policy on Co-operative duly recognised the co-operatives as a major socio-economic force of the third sector, coming after the public and private sectors. Co-operative enterprises, being a sustainable business model not quoted on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) due to its pronounced social mandate are not always captured as an economic business entity that needs attention even as a vital sector that adds to the GDP of the nation, turning over several billions of naira alleviating poverty at rural, semi-urban and urban areas.
The Co-operative Movement in Nigeria covering the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory has a large membership base and adding meaningfully to the Nigerian economy – For example, Lagos state alone has over ten thousand registered Co-operative societies with over one million individual Co-operative members with an annual turnover of over 152billion naira. It provides direct and indirect employment opportunities for tens of thousands of the residents. In addition, hundreds of thousands of students are currently studying co-operative courses in various tertiary institutions in Nigeria, while many others belong to youth co-operative societies across the country. All these are significant figures that need to be harnessed for a brighter and sustainable future of our dear nation – Nigeria. It is rather unfortunate that we do not have accurate database and, or statistics to refer to for a better analysis of the economic performances and socio-cultural impacts of Co-operatives in the country. Hence, the establishment of Project CoopCOUNT® and the Nigerian National Co-operative Awards (CoopAWARDS®) which seek to fill this vacuum