Cooperative society is an autonomous association of people united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled business. One of the easiest method of creating a viable economy that will focus on the well-being of her citizen is through cooperative society.

According to The Nation News, the stories of most cooperative societies in Nigeria are anything but encouraging. If officials are not stealing the funds blind, they are running it to failure. Many people I know have preferred to distance themselves from workplace cooperative societies, all thanks to the negative trends which pervade the operation of the companies in many places of work.

There is no doubt however that a well managed cooperative society can be the workers’ fortune changer. Experts say cooperatives only thrive and soar when the leadership is honest, transparent and committed.

The NNPC Port Harcourt Cooperative, Thrift and Credit Society, has risen in the past four years to be the most profound in terms of creativity, ingenuity and business growth ever known in that sector in the history of Nigeria.

The 7th Annual General Meeting of the Cooperative which held recently at Aztec Arcum Event Centre, Ken Sarowiwa Road in Port Harcourt was as revealing as it was an eye-opener in many respects.

The achievements recorded by the Muhammed Musa Maikaya presidency in its two-term tenure spanning years 2010 to 2015 will go down in history, probably as the golden age of the organization.
In these four years, the NNPC Port Harcourt had a massive drive through injection of new, brilliant ideas and practical implementation leading to unparallel success in the cooperative sector in Nigeria.

The kind of innovations introduced into the running of the cooperative business have made it impossible for any research into the running of successful modern cooperative societies in Africa today to do without drawing references in the activities of the NNPC Port Harcourt Cooperative Society, especially in the era of Maikaya leadership.

It is often said that management is about bringing together men, machines and materials. I dare add that the effective interplay of the three factors is what has partly accounted for the huge successes witnessed at the NNPC Port Harcourt Cooperative Society. The credit goes to Muhammed Musa Maikaya Management Committee for providing hi-tech, knowledge-based leadership.

The executive team led by Mr. Maikaya inherited eight staff in 2010 when it assumed office. As at 2015 when it left office, the staff strength hired by the cooperative society had grown to twenty nine. The cooperative staff of the NNPC Port Harcourt are probably the most motivated in terms of improved take-home pay. The staff have Housing Allowances and Contributory Pension Scheme initiated to promote the workers’ welfare.

Some staff of the cooperative and members were exposed to training within the period to make for effectiveness at work. As expected, the workers’ attitudes have changed for the better just as registered membership grew from 342 in 2010 to 1, 095 at the end of Maikaya’s tenure! This increase in staff strength and membership enrolment has gone a long way in tremendously enabling the corporate performance, expansion and success.

Through team spirit building and leadership ingenuity, Mr. Maikaya initiated the Oil Spring Housing Estate in Lugbe-Abuja, a dreamy housing plan for members to own their own houses in the nation’s capital, Abuja, which has become a reality! All members who applied have received their allocation papers. Most of the houses are presently being readied for occupation. In fact, 224 out of 350 units of the houses are at various stages of completion, including road networks, electricity, etc.

The Oil Spring Housing Estate in Lugbe-Abuja is most certainly the biggest and most beautiful estate ever conceived or built by any cooperative society in Nigeria. The quality of the project received an excellent commendation at the 7th AGM.
Also at the AGM, the management of Property Finders Limited based in Abuja received kudos for its creativity which has transformed the estate into an exquisite complex also for choosing to use their own funds to move the project forward whenever there were slight delays from the project owners. Not many property companies in Nigeria could afford to push so hard to realise a client’s dream, for, indeed Property Finders is in a class of its own! Good governance is essentially a catalyst for rapid development. This initiative represents no less!

The Maikaya exco went into Transport Business, purchasing four buses, three of which earn N20,000 a day and the fourth reserved for car hire services and also netting in good revenue into the cooperative’s accounts.
A filling station in a busy hub in Port Harcourt, acquired in 2011 by the cooperative and run by it was recently re-equipped with new pump machines and a new stand-by generator.
The same turn-around maintenance and re-injection of capital was carried out in the cooperative’s farm sector, initiated by the Maikaya administration in 2010. The repositioned farm business is now yielding profits beyond members’ expectations. The NNPC Cooperative farm located in Port Harcourt has become a star example of success where others now visit to take a lesson or two from.

Leveraging the high performance, good name and credibility which the NNPC Port Harcourt Cooperative Society has acquired for itself over the years, lending organisations, especially commercial banks have thrown their gates wide open to do business with the cooperative.

During the four-year reign of the Maikaya administration, over N10bn of funds obtained from banks, savings-contributions and internally generated funds were disbursed to members who desired funds to meet urgent financial needs
The cooperative bookshop was also positioned by management to optimally perform in the period under review which has made it a reasonable income stream to the society. Gone also is the era in which the cooperative’s super market posted ‘reduction in losses’ annually as business outcome reports. Determined to hear nothing of the sort, Mr. Maikaya personally saw to it that the story changed.

The supermarket now posts a profit of over N4m from the hitherto comatose business unit, annually.
Maikaya’s management will be remembered for initiating e-transactions into the cooperative business thereby making the location of members a non-issue. This is also as e-ticketing and holiday packages are being concluded with partners.
Following a disagreement with Union Bank of Nigeria over the cooperative’s account with them, Maikaya’s management which operated zero tolerance to corruption and cheating, engaged Idra Consulting Ltd in 2012 to do a forensic check on the account. The matter dragged before the Bankers’ Committee in Lagos. At the end, the society recovered what could have been a written-off sum of over N11.5m

The recovery of the ‘bye-passed’ income itself tells its own story of the good governance posture of the Maikaya Management. In a country where corruption walks on four legs, where even our leaders fail to bring back into government purse, monies recovered from the foreign accounts of corrupt past leaders, this is a feat!
In 13 years the cooperative battled to achieve a capital base of N240million before Maikaya’s team took over. In the four years of Maikaya’s intervention the capital base had been raised to N1.174bn. By any record of assessment, this is one Nigerian story for which one can heave a sigh of relief.
Little wonder, the Rivers State. Director of Cooperatives, Mrs. I.O Otu suggested to the 7th AGM the need for the incoming exco to appoint the outgoing president, Muhammed Maikaya as ex-officio in order to keep him close and to continue to tap into his vast business ideas, creativity and initiatives.

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