President Goodluck Jonathan announced yesterday that he would send a federal government delegation to Nairobi, Kenya to understudy its University of Cooperatives with a view to establishing the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Jonathan gave the hint when he played host to members of the Odua Cooperative Alliance (OCA) from the six southwestern states in the State House, Marina, Lagos.
Leader of the delegation, Asiwaju Adetokunbo Osisanya, had made an appeal to the president that the federal government should establish the institution the way the Kenyan government did.
Osisanya promised Jonathan that the group would mobilise over two million votes for the president's re-election bid out of its six million membership strength.
Admitting that he heard about the existence of such an institution in the East African country for the first time, the president promised to act immediately by situating the first university in the southwest.
He said he had always believed that Nigeria needs specialised universities, which is why he was establishing a Maritime University in Delta State.
He said, "On the issue you raised about a University of Cooperative, I will send a team to Kenya to go and look at the university there. They need to look at the courses they offer, the departments and how the entire institution is structured. Then we will establish our own and it will be located in the southwest."
On the request of the institution for N200 billion national cooperative development fund as provided in the national cooperative policy of year 2002, the president promised to get the Central Bank of Nigeria to consider the inclusion of that in its operations.
He promised to consider other requests made by the group if Nigerians return him to office on March 28.
On the demand for the review of cooperative laws, the president who asked the group to form a team within itself and recommend specific laws to the federal government promised to sit with them, look at their recommendations and send a draft bill to the National Assembly for deliberations.
He thanked the leader of the delegation for his brilliant presentation, acknowledging that he had become more enlightened about how the cooperative movement can contribute to the advancement of his Transformation Agenda.
"After listening to your well written address which was also articulately presented, I now appreciate better the role cooperative movements can play in our transformation agenda. We will cooperate with you and include your ideas as parts of efforts to move this country forward," he said.
Other requests made by the group include grant for the take-off of the national cooperative transportation scheme; reduction in the collateral to access the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund.
Others are favorable policy framework on the federal mortgage for housing to enable conventional cooperatives to benefit; special funding for cooperative movement; creation of full-fledged ministry of cooperative and rural development."