By Eze Mark Odu
South East Communities Development Association (SECDA) arose from the need to create viable and self-sustaining communities out of present-day constricted Igboland, with over 2,300 com- munities, which is the only one- language zone in Nigeria Project.
Igbo became relevant in colonial Nigeria from our love and care for one another. Communities cooperated to train their children abroad with communal levies and took care of several welfare projects the same way. It is evidently the development paradigm we must return to, in order to protect ourselves and develop our unique talents for productive endeavours of all kinds, including trade and industrialisation for which Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi have shown relevance through Nigeria’s history.
Our model is to create a large community of Ndigbo into a ma- jor cooperative hub with love and high social responsibility for one another in the idiom of the past and to drive our people into higher and higher levels of productivity and happiness. Ndigbo held sway in Nigeria’s public and private sectors through this. The Biafran War seems to have atomised us into ineffective units that are splintered and rendered incapable of group action in any direction. SECDA intends to recreate pan-Igbo relevance.
A cooperative model is deemed the most efficient approach to this goal. Imo State has led the way in the formation of Imo State (Owerri Municipal) Thrift and Investment Cooperative Union, which has successfully registered First Nationwide Microfinance Bank (FNMB) Limited. It is undergoing processing at Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for provisional licence. Equity of N21 million has been deposited against a Unit Microfinance Bank. The name of the bank derives from the presence of Ndigbo in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria. Support for productive life should be available to them everywhere. It is our vision and mission to drive this to reality in the shortest possible time.
Imo State Thrift and Investment Cooperative Union Ltd.
It should have been established long before now that the cause of our pervasive poverty is inadequate public sector dedication to the common good.
Governments of our erstwhile regions placed priorities appropriately in food and cash crops and organised their production and consumption and export on established economic principles. We lost our bearing with intervention of military adventurists. We have very little chance of recovery save through the cooperative spirit built on love and care of members in a cooperative family that stands a chance for rapid growth in horizontal and vertical terms in a short time frame. Horizontal growth is attainable with linkages of cooperatives in similar commodity and service lines.
Vertical growth is attainable through massing of capital for increasing production of goods and services. Cooperatives do not segregate between classes. It is the path to which business of the future must tread to sustain relevance into the far future. Investment capital is still being frittered away in self-serving consumption expenditure that has done little to shore up production of goods and services which cre- ate higher levels of choices for our majority.
Poverty is real at the base of our economic pyramid. The surest way out of this dilemma is to develop the cooperative spirit and spread wealth at the base of society, or we all shall be endangered by irrepressible discontent which is currently manifesting in the North of Nigeria as Boko Haram.
The cooperative movement assures Ndigbo and the larger Nigerian nation of a strife-free future. It will be an appropriate solution to ignite and power and sustain a microfinance bank for the cooperative movement in Nigeria. It is the surest way of avoiding the habitual dependence on government and their downslides caused by avarice in hallowed chambers of executive and legislative
arms of government, which have failed the majority through 40 odd years of bad governance.
There are now, by happenstance, intervention and dedicated funds to stimulate various levels of production with appropriate credit. The banking system at present is run by short-sighted banking and finance houses who are not deep enough in their perception of real sector development to appreciate that sustainable development can only be engendered through funding of production of food and basic needs of citizens and thereafter, only, production of symbols of civilisation. Igboland is segregated against in delivery of investment capital on ruses of infestation with criminals.
Ndigbo cannot throw up their hands and cry in lamentation. We have to build love afresh in the idiom of our past relevance and, with pooling of resources, return to irrepressible relevance in a matter of a decade of sustained pro-in- vestment activity of the desirable type.
The foregoing informed the formation of Imo State Thrift and Investment Cooperative Union Limited that has now midwifed FNMB that will be anchored on cooperative principles in line with current guidelines of CBN. Money will be available on wholesale basis for on-lending to micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs).
This memorandum requests speedy attention of all Ndigbo who have contemplated the plight of the disappearing middle class in Nigeria and all those who hanker after security of lives and property in a warped economic setting which Nigeria has inherited from years of poor leadership.
All states in the South East zone are encouraged to form primary cooperative societies and unions in their own states to come into this nationwide partnership. High net- worth individuals, who have communal spirit left in them, should invest their money in this project for yields that exceed interest. The extension to interest is spreading love and social responsibility, motivating productivity and securing and stabilising our communities. The mission can be accomplished faster by horizontal linkages with existing microfinance houses, provided such finance houses are prepared to adopt the cooperative principle founded as it is on a captive investor portfolio developed already from thousands of farmers, artisans, craftsmen, professionals, transport operators, institutional cooperatives and women in all trades and vocations. FNMB stands ready to tap into and win a substantial part of current CBN, Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry windows for the real sector, including the N220 billion fund for MSMEs. It will be responsible for micro, small, and medium term lending to our vast productive people spread out in Nigeria. You are invited to partner with us in the cooperative idiom where no one holds more than five per cent of shares in equity. Our immediate target is to raise N150 million by December 31, 2015. Minimum share purchasable shall be N5,000 and multiples of N1,000 thereof by cooperative societies, cooperative unions and their individual members. All cooperatives at primary, secondary and tertiary levels are invited. Ndigbo are requested to treat this venture as a lifeline for our survival as a specie of humanity.