Nigeria marks end of International Year with Youth Conference

13 Dec 2012

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In Nigeria, the Youth Co-operative Network (NYCN) with more than 10,000 members, made the most the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC) to raise awareness of the co-operative movement.

To mark the IYC, the Network recently hosted the National Youth Co-operative Conference. The conference sought to “Educate, empower and entertain” young people. Youth from all over Nigeria joined a debate on the future of the co-operative movement, sharing ideas and experiences.

The National Youth Co-operative Conference is the first of its kind in the history of modern co-operatives in Nigeria. The event gathered 500 delegates including exhibitors, students and sponsors. Guest speakers included Asiwaju Osisanya - President of Oodua Cooperative Alliance (OCA) and Adebola Orolugbagbe, CEO of CoopXchange.Net and President of National Association of Credit Unions of Nigeria (NACCUN).

Tackling youth unemployment was a key topic at the five-day national conference, with various speakers trying to explore a co-operative solution to overcoming unemployment among youth.

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Referring to the conference, Victor Oyegoke, president of the Network said it has been a great success. The youth conference was part of an extended programme aimed at promoting co-ops among the Nigeria youth.

One such project is YouthCOOPS, which seeks to encourage those who have dropped out of school to go into agriculture and create sustainable co-operative enterprises in order to tackle poverty and promote food security. Young co-operators have set up fish, yam and potato farms all over Nigeria.

The NYCN is also trying to reach out to some young Nigerian movie stars nominating them as UN IYC Youth Ambassadors in Nigeria.

“NYCN-COOP is breaking all odds to create awareness among young adults about co-operatives and how to develop the next generation of co-operators that will drive the future of co-operatives in Nigeria,” said Mr Oyegoke. 

He explained: “With that we can get a lot of their fan base get to know about co-operatives and we get more people knowing about co-ops and what they can benefit by being part of the co-op family.”

The NYCN-Coop also places a strong emphasis on co-operative education through CoopEDUCATE, a Mass Literacy & Adult Education initiative that targets communities where adults are illiterate. Whilst educating them, the NYCN-Coop also teaches young people about co-operative principles, values and identity.

Mr Oyegoke said: “One of our intentions is to get their children as well to be part of the co-operative movement. We have achieved that in a community called Kireyi in Lafia- Nasarawa State of Nigeria.”

The Youth Co-operative Movement plans to run similar projects in the future. The National Youth Co-operative Conference was an opportunity for young co-operators from all over the country to engage in new activities and make new partnerships.

The National Youth Co-operative Conference took place between 4-7 December at the Premier Cooperative College in West, Ibadan, Oyo State. 


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