Although co-operation as a form of individual and societal behavior is intrinsic to human organization, the history of modern co-operative forms of organizing dates back to the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. The status of which was the ‘first co-operative’ is under some dispute, but various milestones in the history may be identified. In 1761, the Fenwick Weavers’ Society was formed in Fenwick, East Ayrshire, Scotland to sell discounted oatmeal to local workers.
Its services expanded to include assistance with savings and loans, emigration and education. In 1810, Welsh social reformer Robert Owen, from Newtown in mid-Wales, and his partners purchased New Lanark mill from Owen’s father-in-law and proceeded to introduce better labor standards including discounted retail shops where profits were passed on to his employees. Owen left New Lanark to pursue other forms of co-operative organization and develop co-op ideas through writing and lecture. Co-operative communities were set up in Glasgow, Indiana and Hampshire, although ultimately unsuccessful.
In 1828, William King set up a newspaper, The Cooperator, to promote Owen’s thinking, having already set up a co-operative store in Brighton. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, founded in 1844, is usually considered the first successful co-operative enterprise, used as a model for modern co-ops, following the ‘Rochdale Principles’. A group of 28 weavers and other artisans in Rochdale, England set up the society to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. Within ten years there were over 1,000 co-operative societies in the United Kingdom.
Other events such as the founding of a friendly society by the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1832 were key occasions in the creation of organized labor and consumer movements. From the report of the workshop held on 10th – 11th November 2008 during the 8 the ICA Africa regional assembly at the international conference centre, Abuja. Mr Tom Tar – The Executive Secretary of Cooperative Federation of Nigeria, In his introduction of the movement in Nigeria, said the Cooperative Federation of Nigeria (CFN) was formed in 1945 and got registered in 1967.
He traced the background of cooperatives in Nigeria to the traditional savings and loans system. He added that following agitation by the Agege Cocoa planters Union in 1907, the study for establishment of formal cooperation was commissioned in 1934. This was followed by the enactment of cooperative legislation in 1935. The early move was in agriculture and latter shifted to marketing following the shift in the Nigerian economy from agriculture to crude oil. He gave the scope of cooperative activities in Nigeria as covering: On population, he said there are about 5million family members covering 20 million house holds.
This study is significant because it will produce data on cooperative movement in Nigeria that will be useful to: 1. federal ministry of labour and productivity 2. national union of local government employees 3. state civil service commission 4. federal civil service commission . 5. managers and top executives in organized private sector 6. united nation commission on employment 7. federal ministry of finance 8. Central bank of Nigeria 9. tudents carrying out a research work in this same issue.
Cooperative society is the organization of people for an improved agricultural production (Strickland, 1934). Historically in Nigeria, the orientation and growth of cooperatives in Nigeria was related to the development of agricultural export sector by the Colonial Masters who invited an expert in 1934 known as C. F. Strickland who served in India to advice “on the prospects and desirability of forming cooperatives in Nigeria” (Nkom, 1984).
Among the recommendations made by Strickland was the formation of Agricultural Marketing Cooperatives with the aim of pursuing the major export crops, like cocoa, cotton, palm produce farms in the country (Ekpere, 1980). From 1935-37, however, these east while production cooperatives were either transformed or designated cooperative produce marketing societies and unions. From 1960-1972, the role of farmer cooperative in the primary production process has been re-vitalized (Ekpere, 1980). Presently, the cooperative movement is on the increase for the search of sustainability in an agricultural system.
Sustainability is possible when we encourage the agricultural activities of cooperatives. The organizational structure of cooperative societies is based on their operation, organization, structure, membership, functions and services (Scope) with the main aim of “Collecting, processing and marketing specific commodities and providing with inputs, credit and technical services for benefits of members. Therefore, these cooperative organizations are usually arranged into “tiers”. They are: The primary societies, secondary and Apex organization.
Although the term may be used loosely to describe a way of working, a cooperative properly so-called is a legal entity owned and democratically controlled equally by its members. A defining point of a cooperative is that the members have a close association with the enterprise as producers or consumers of its products or services, or as its employees. In some countries, e. g. Finland and Sweden, there are specific forms of incorporation for co-operatives. Cooperatives may take the form of companies limited by shares or by guarantee, partnerships or unincorporated associations.
In the USA, cooperatives are often organized as non-capital stock corporations under state-specific cooperative laws. However, they may also be unincorporated associations or business corporations such as limited liability companies or partnerships; such forms are useful when the members want to allow: some members to have a greater share of the control, or some investors to have a return on their capital that exceeds fixed interest, neither of which may be allowed under local laws for cooperatives.
Cooperatives often share their earnings with the membership as dividends, which are divided among the members according to their participation in the enterprise, such as patronage, instead of according to the value of their capital shareholdings (as is done by a joint stock company).