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Welcome Address of LASCOFED President at 2019 LASCOFED Cooperative Leaders’ Conference

DSC_0148ADDRESS DELIVERED BY LASCOFED PRESIDENT, HIGH CHIEF ORIYOMI AYEOLA AT THE 2019 LASCOFED COOPERATIVE LEADERS’ CONFERENCE HELD 5TH – 8TH DECEMBER, 2019 AT GOLDEN TULIP HOTEL, FESTAC, LAGOS

Protocols

Preamble
I am grateful to God Almighty who has spared our lives and granted us the privilege to witness this event, which is the grand finale of all major cooperative activities in Lagos State for the year 2019.

Before I proceed, I crave your indulgence to observe a minute silence for the cooperative leaders that we lost to the cold hands of death in the course of the outgoing year. Pastor Akinola Abiola who was until his death the 4th Vice President of LASCOFED and President of Ikeja MCU and Mr. Bashir Usman, Vice President of LASCOFIS. May their souls rest in peace. Through this, I also commiserate with all cooperatives societies that lost member(s) during the year. I express the appreciation of the President-in-Council and Board of LASCOFED to cooperators and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives for standing by us and for the roles played by all during the burial of the departed leaders and also the concerns of solidarity shown in support of the families of the departed. May we not witness such in our midst again.

Welcoming Participants
I am happy to welcome you all to this historic occasion, 2019 LASCOFED Cooperative Leaders’ Conference. It is indeed historic for me as it is the 8th Edition I have the privilege to preside over as the President of LASCOFED and most likely the last, as I will be stepping down as President of LASCOFED by July, 2020, God willing.

My 8years sojourn as President of LASCOFED has been eventful, impactful and educative. During the 8years, we particularly used this annual conference to navigate emerging trends in corporate and business world to rejig and expand cooperative operations in Lagos State.

Distinguished cooperative leaders, since we came on board in 2012, the LASCOFED Cooperative leaders’ Conference hitherto referred to as Cooperative Leaders Retreat has been an incubator for many cooperative ideas and innovations. These ideas metamorphosed into projects used to grow and develop Lagos State Cooperative Movement.

The completion of LASCOFED Office Complex & Multipurpose Hall, is a good reference of the productive ideas which usually emanate from this conference. Also at one of our annual conferences, we launched Cooperative Insurance Scheme with the support of Lagos State Government through the Directorate of Cooperatives and the supervisory Ministry. The scheme provides insurance cover for cooperators and operations of cooperative societies. The insurance cover helps cooperative societies to mitigate risks associated with loan defaults as a result of incapacitation, loss of job and death. Presently, the insurance cover is handled by a consortium of insurance companies led by LASACO Assurance Plc.

Theme
The theme for this year’s conference is Consolidating Cooperative Frontiers for Productivity.
Consolidating cooperative frontiers as a theme is aimed at identifying areas where we can improve the operations of cooperatives economically and socially while diversifying.

Today, we have in our midst Honorable Bisi Yusuf, the Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Housing to deliver the keynote address. Sir, we acknowledge your contributions to the development of Lagos State and have no doubt whatsoever that you will do more for Lagosians. Please permit me to reiterate that Cooperatives are people-based welfare organizations that are very close to the grass root and therefore a very good tool that the government can use to drive its people oriented programs in all sectors of the economy including but not limited to agriculture, transportation, housing, production and economic empowerment amongst others.

On housing, the Cooperative Movement is willing to partner and assist government to bridge the housing gap by investing in affordable housing for members. To this end, LASCOFED through Cooperative Federation of Nigeria (CFN) has reached an understanding with Cooperative Mortgage Bank and Family Homes Funds to provide cooperatives with the necessary technical and financial support that will assist us meet cooperators’ yearnings for decent homes through the creation of mortgages. Many cooperative societies are however faced with the problem of obtaining title documents for the land they acquired on behalf of their members. We implore you sir, to use your good offices to assist us procure Certificate of Occupancy for our lands with minimum conditions.

International Cooperative Alliance (ICA Global Agenda)
As a progressive global movement which has been around for over a century, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA Global) has put up as a major project for its member affiliates “The future of Cooperatives; Youths in Perspective”. This is one of the decisions taken at the global Conference held in Kigali, Rwanda recently. Therefore, we shall in the course of this Conference have in-depth interactions on youth so that as a group, we will collectively come up with a set of guidelines for ensuring continuity of the Cooperative Movement through the engagement of our youths. We hope to launch Lagos State apex Youth in Cooperatives in the 1st quarter of 2020. We implore all leaders here present to go back and organize youths in their cooperatives and cooperative unions.

As recognized by the United Nations as an emerging business model, the cooperative sector needs to move with technological trends particularly as applicable in the world of business. Therefore, the ICA has retained the services of our own African Prudential Plc. to develop and deploy solutions for cooperative operations across Africa and this they have been doing. At this conference, we will also have the opportunity to look at emerging technologies and how they can ease cooperative transactions and operations. I implore us to get to their stand to view a demo of what they have developed for our use.

Alliance Africa Agenda
While appreciating the executives and drivers of the various cooperative societies for the innovative programs and products that are put in place from time to time to better the lives of cooperators, however, there are many areas yet untapped which cooperative societies can venture into for economic, health and social benefits to members. One of such is investment in the health sector. The Alliance Africa at the Technical committee of the African Cooperative Ministerial conference held in Harare, Zimbabwe in May this year, x-rayed the involvement of cooperatives in the health sector in some advanced countries and concluded by appealing to member states to go back home and sensitize cooperatives within the African region to get involved in the sector.

In consideration of this and the fact that health is wealth therefore, we shall focus at this conference on the benefits of cooperative health insurance and provision of services under such scheme. The Board of LASCOFED set up a committee to look into this with the objective of providing affordable health care services to members and non members. Specifically, LASCOFED propose to float COOP Health Maintenance Organisation in the nearest future and urge well meaning cooperatives to partner with LASCOFED in this regard and to establish health support organizations like; Coop Pharmacy, Coop Diagnostic Centers, Coop Hospitals etc. for the provision of affordable health care services to cooperators and other interested beneficiaries who would be enrolled in the Coop Health Maintenance Organisation.

2020 Congresses of LASCOFED & Affiliates
As mentioned earlier, I shall step down as President of LASCOFED in July, 2020 and a new set of Cooperative administrators will be elected to paddle the ship of this prestigious State Cooperative Federation for another 4 years.

Permit me to say that the journey of my disengagement as President of LASCOFED has started and the job of ensuring that our State Cooperative Federation maintains the lead in the comity of Cooperative Federations rest with all of us. The process starts with the Congresses of all Multipurpose Cooperative Unions and other affiliates. We are already in discussion with the Directorate of Cooperative Services on ways of ensuring credible, free and fair Congresses. Therefore, shortly after this conference, the Board shall propose, to the Director of Cooperative Services, a set of electoral guidelines for all the elections for uniformity.

As cooperative leaders, we need not sit on the fence as the future of our Movement is at stake. We need knowledgeable, vibrant and upright individuals to run for elective positions in the MCUs, Cooperative Associations and LASCOFED.

Appreciations
On this run up to my exit as President of Lagos State Cooperative Federation, you please permit me to appreciate everyone who has been part of my journey since July 2012. I acknowledge the members of the past and present President-in-Councils with whom decisions to propose projects were taken and the immediate past and current members of the Board of LASCOFED who scrutinized and approved such proposals for execution. I am indebted to cooperative leaders across the state for accepting the proposals and projects and worked assiduously with us to get them to fruition. I appreciate your rallying round the Board and your constructive criticisms which propelled us to higher grounds.

I also appreciate all corporate organizations and captains of industries who have been wonderful, cooperative and supportive of our programs. I acknowledge the support of everyone and pray that you will never lack those that will support your dreams. My appreciation will be incomplete without acknowledging the religious support, unfettered cooperation, smooth working relationship and hard work of LASCOFED Secretariat headed by the Executive Secretary. I thank you most sincerely.

I am equally grateful for the cooperation of the past and present leadership of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, and all the Cooperative Area Officers that made the journey a smooth sail. Thank you all.

Conclusion
Finally, I want to reiterate my appreciation to all and sundry for being part of this year’s conference while appealing to us to use the opportunity to network and improve our services to our members-the Lagos cooperators.

Cooperative…Oneness
Cooperative…Power
Cooperative…Progress