Nigeria

Recertification: ARDS threatens to shut erring cooperatives

The Secretary, Agriculture Rural Development Secretariat, Mr Ifeanyichukwu Nzekwe, has threatened to shut down any Cooperative Society in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that failed to undergo compulsory recertification.

Nzekwe however told newsmen in an interview in Abuja on Sunday that operations of the cooperative societies have improved tremendously.

According to him, “at inception I had several petitions, including an allegation that the cooperative societies do not hold meetings.

“Executives remain in office without conducting elections, which allow for several fraudulent transactions and indirect acquisition of the assets of the cooperative societies.

“Such petitions came in from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Capital Development Authority, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and individuals.

“Swindlers take land under cooperatives, sell and resell to more than one person, while some of the cooperative societies have not been audited in the past 10 years,’’ he said.

Nzekwe alleged that many of them do not even know the cooperative laws, “so, we had to start the recertification process with the aim of identifying the genuine ones.

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“This is in order to bring them up to the tenets, regulations and also educate them on the dos and don’ts of cooperative societies.

“The process is to ensure that their books are audited and up to date, while proper elections are conducted at the end of their tenure so that members can have a say in who heads the cooperative societies.

“I am happy to say that the new certificates have been acquired and any cooperative society that doesn’t get a recertification will seize to exist in the FCT.’’

Nzekwe said that aside increasing the number of departments from four to seven, it has also created access to over 4,000 farmers in the FCT who could henceforth be contacted, using its improved ICT unit.

He said the secretariat has also improved veterinary services, graduated many skilled trainees in fishery, crop production and agricultural extension services, provided them with assistance, as well as liquidated huge debts for the secretariat.

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“Apart of filling up some vacancies in the secretariat, we also restarted distribution of farm inputs to farmers which had been on hold for about six years.

“The popular Jabi Lake was last year stocked with large number of different specie of fishes, the move was necessary because the lake served as a recreation centre and a calming measure for the environment.

The secretary said Fadama Programme has graduated 110 persons in different areas, adding that there is huge increase in rice production.

He, however, regretted that it became imperative for the FCT fishing festival to be shifted to next year due to lack of budgetary provisions and other challenges.

“FCT needs to be heavily funded by the Federal Government.

“There is an extent to which we can go and things will become very bad, so, I wish more attention be given to critical infrastructure in the FCT,’’ he said

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