Bight Newspaper reports that the Bayelsa State Government has expressed its desire to strengthen small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through effective and well coordinated cooperative societies to enhance economic development of the state.

The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, disclosed this when he granted audience to the Director General and members of the Bayelsa State Bureau for Cooperative Development (BSBCD) at his office in Government House on Friday.

The Deputy Governor, who emphasized that effective cooperative societies were the backbone of thriving SMEs, noted that government was considering distributing soft loans as economic stimulus packages to some enterprising youths and women through strong cooperative societies in the state.

His words: “The success of SMEs and the development of any economy depends largely on the effectiveness of cooperatives. Without strong and effective cooperatives, SMEs will not survive.

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“There is a nexus between survival of SMEs and effective cooperative societies because cooperatives are the seeds with which the germination of the economy protrudes into the SMEs and generally jumpstart the economy.

“Unfortunately, we are not paying adequate attention to the development of cooperatives in Nigeria. And so, I think your major challenge is that of enlightenment because quite a lot of people are still very naive and ignorant about cooperatives.

“We really need to expand the horizon of our enlightenment. The difference between us and those enlightened societies is that they grow with cooperatives. Most of the viable football clubs in Europe and other parts of the world are through cooperatives.

“This government is determined to work with cooperatives that are effective. Over the years, we have been doing empowerment programmes. For instance, the N200,000 we have been giving to 4 persons in each ward every month.

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Highlighting the important role of cooperatives play in building both personal and corporate economies, he noted that some of the big football clubs making waves in Europe were established through cooperative societies.

Senator Ewhrudjakpo said the knowledge of the importance and workings of a cooperative society was still very low in Bayelsa, and therefore, charged the Bureau for Cooperative Development to intensify its enlightenment programme especially at the grassroots level.

He, however, applauded the Niger Delta University (NDU) cooperative society which, according to him, had made significant milestones, and called on other cooperatives in the state to emulate the NDU model to change the narrative for good.

Speaking earlier, the Director-General of the state Bureau for Cooperative Development, Chief Ebikiri Akpolo, said the agency was set up to regulate the activities of cooperatives in line with extant laws of the state in particular and the country in general.

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According to him, there are over 700,000 cooperators in the state, adding that the Bureau has a total of N1.5 million as its targeted revenue for this year.

 

Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo in meeting with the Director General  and members of the Bayelsa State Bureau of Cooperative Development in Government House, Yenagoa yesterday

 

Chief Ebikiri Akpolo, appealed to government to provide the Bureau with a better office accommodation; loan scheme for cooperative societies in the state, as well as official vehicles to enhance the its operations.

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