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Over 80% AFSCMCS members benefited from loans in 2017, to enjoy travel and tour package in 2018

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President, AFSCMCS , Mr. Richard Tella

The Airport Fire and Safety Cooperatives Multipurpose Credit Society (AFSCMCS) has over 4000 members, has been existing for some many years in the aviation industry. The Society has helped members in no small way to build their own houses, buy cars, send their children to schools and seek loans etc.
President, AFSCMCS, Mr. Richard Tella after his recent reelection for a second term of two years speaks on issues of loan disbursement, acquisition of land for members and plans for members in 2018.
Excerpts

How will you describe the year 2017 as regards your cooperative society?

The year 2017 was a little bit fair. This is because, before i took over in 2015, we had some challenges we needed to handle but by the special grace of God, when we entered 2017 we were able to stabilise. We were also able to know what we can do to know how to move the cooperative forward. So it was fair but we believe that by the year 2018 we will do better. .

What are the remarkable things you were able to achieve in 2017?

One of the things we achieved in 2017 was that we acquired a school property. It was school property in conjunction with Federal Ministry of Transport and Aviation Cooperative Society. It was a joint acquisition which we acquired. We are planning to see how we can regurlarise the documentation of the school probably before this 2018 ends. We want to carry out some renovation works and do some jobs there before the school can commence in the next session. Another one is that we have it in mind to write to the former administration that we are going to have a guest house which will be operated by our staffs. We also acquired a property at Mafoluku. We bought the property, then demolished it and we are in possession of it. Though, we have some issues because we need to regularise the documents. That is being done in Abuja. When that is done, we will see how we can move forward from there.
We are having issues with our Secretariat that we are using; already, we are having issues of accommodation. Operation has began and we need more space to operate effectively. This is coupled with the the structural defect we had on the property then. We have decided to work on it. To lift up one structure is more or less like a construction of the property itself. Work is ongoing now and I think it is up to 30-40% of completion. So it is still in progress. Those are the things we did in 2017. Apart from that, the members enjoyed all the benefits like loans; people who ought to get loan got loans. In addition, they all got their dividends of the year 2017 at the end of the year.

How many people benefited from the loan?

Almost everybody. We have almost 4000 members and almost 80% of them benefited from the loan, but all of them got dividends.

What are your greatest challenges?

Due to the economic recession witnessed last year in the nation, we had a lot of pressures in the cooperative. People were faced with challenges and the only place they could go to is corporate. They come to corporative to ask for assistance, so we had a lot of pressures on us throughout the year 2017. But we do all we could do to see where we could assist. That was the only challenge we had

How many members joined in 2017?

Almost 200 members joined us, specially this new intakes that came in last year. Though, not all them stay in Lagos but most of the people that are in Lagos joined the society and we also had members amongst the directors too

There is this case of fraud that almost tarnished the image of the association, but you were able to handle it. What measure have you put in place to forestall another occurrence in the future ?

When things have not happened you may not know which area you have issues. We thank God that we are able to detect the fraud. We detected the fraud and during investigations, we later found out that it has been a long time thing among the staff that were doing it. I think it is about four staff that were involved and they were all arrested. The police handled them and did further investigations. One of them has been on negotiation, promising that he is going to pay back; he even dropped about one or two properties to cover some of the money they defrauded. The other three have been prosecuted in court. The case is in court and we have a lawyer that is sound that is handling it. But despite that, when that happened we have to change all our softwares in the system and some other security measures were put in place in order not to allow such thing to happen again.
And we have been able to educate our members that on no account should they pay into personal savings account any longer. We have association account displayed at the secretariat. We have also been able to acquire POS; so instead of them going to bank to pay, they can remit the cash through POS. In addition, we have been able to put our account on web, so that instead of people coming to the secretary to ask what is their statement of account, they can easily log in to the site to find out. They have to produce a password and an ID which are the items that can be use to access the website. They can easily check their statement of account to know if anything has gone wrong with the account because. If they have tampered with the account, they will know. So those are the measures taken internally in order not to allow such to happen again.

What is the role of the management of FAAN in this cooperative, have they been assisting?.

Anyway they have assisted us. They allowed us to operate, if they didn’t allow us to operate we won’t have been here. They have played a major role in the progress of the corporative. Where we are using today as secretariat was given by FAAN without taking any charges from us. They allow us to operate without any problem and also assist us by helping to deduct the money directly from each branch to make it easier for us. And if anybody is owning, we write FAAN at the end of their retirement and they will help us to deduct it from the FAAN benefits so that no body will go with our money.

You know that members will come and go and you mentioned about 200 plus came into corporative last year so how many people are you looking at that will retire this year, because definitely there will be some people that will retire

Most of the staff were employed in 1978, 79-80 and if you look at the time of retirement, between last year and this year we are expecting that lot of people will retire this year. It happened last year and we are still expecting that a lot of people will also retire this year and we have also prepared for them because we know that some of them will definitely collect their savings which they have been doing. We have not been failing and anyone will be collecting their money as at June 12. In addition, what we will also do is that we will assist them by organising seminars for them. Like this year before the first quarter or half of the year we are going to get the list of the people that are retiring between now and December. This year we are going to organise seminar on post retirements programmes. In the process, we give them trainings; what can they do if they retire, what kind of vocational job they can do on their own with the little they have in savings with corporative. We will advise them that they can start something like fishing or farming; that is what we normally do and we are planning another one this year.

Now that you are engaged in a lot of projects, like that of the school, the old secretariat has been reconstructed and the hotel; what is the deadline for the completion of all the project?

We are planning that the school project will commence as from next session, that will be around September. Before that time, the documentation would have been completed to enable us to operate. We are looking at completing the secretariat within the next three to four months. Since we commenced the work around late November last year, we are looking at concluding it around March or April. There is another project we embarked on upon last year and that was acquisition of properties that was about 200 plots for our members. It is about N2.5 million per plot and the property has all the infrastructural facilities including the road and electricity. So we are looking at, that by the next three years we should have completed the payment for the property because we are paying in installments where it takes members up to it 48 months to pay up.

How about the Guest House?

The guesthouse may not be completed this year because of the documentation. We want to make sure all the documents are available before we commence the project. Already, we have designed how we want it to be. You know that i have two years for my tenure and what i know is that before I complete my tenure the project would have been completed and commissioned.

Do you have any other program, probably programs that will involve all your members aside the one for those who are retiring, maybe something like empowerment program. Is there anything you intend to do this year in that line ?

We working on that too because some of them have been complaining, whether they need to wait till retirement before they start enjoying. So we are looking at how we can have a large number of people so that we can invite facilitators to come and talk to them to give them training before retirement. They can even start business before retirement, at least in a small scale so that, by the time they retire it wouldn’t be as if they are starting afresh. We are trying to see what we can do.
In our Ikeja area office, we have our supervisors there and they always organise seminars every year. We normally send more than 50 members to attend the seminars. We also have another large body; we call it Ikeja Multipurpose Corporative Union which are affiliated to. All primary corporative societies are under that union, and that union also orgainses retreat every year. We tap into it and we use to carry some of our members to attend such retreats. We also have also Lagos State Corporative Federation (LASCOFED) which also organises retreat once a year. So we take our members to the program

To what extent has the cooperative benefited members?

The Cooperative has helped a lot of people in many ways. We thank God that we have such in the society today. There is a little that the industry can do when it comes to welfare of the society. They cannot handle all. I know before the corporative started, there were lots of people that used to go to the management to ask for cash advance or something like that. They always ask the management to give them certain amounts; this amount they instruct should be deducted from their salaries. But the corperative has taken that responsibilities from the management. Corporations have started doing that now and instead of going to the management they come to corporative to assist them.
Apart from that, some of our members have benefited from our properties at Iyana-iyesi. There are two at Igbodi, along Lagos-Ibadan expressway which we bought and give to our members. Our members have started staying in the estate; they are building houses and even while building their house they come to the corporative for loans. You can never get salary to build a house. So we give them loans to build their houses. We also bought new cars for our members too; that was some years ago and some benefited from that. We also sold out electronics in such an arrangement that they can buy electronics on credit and pay installmentally we do that for our members as they enjoyed buying electronics, then payback later. It is not only electronics; we also gave out consumable goods like rice, vegetable oil, red oil and others. We also have a supermarket where they can buy things on credit.
Another thing we are looking at is that we want to introduce travelling and tours packages to our members. With the package those on vacation can travel out and spend two weeks in countries like South Africa or Dubai to start with. So whoever that want to travel can key into it. You know it may cost you up to N600, 000 to N600, 000 to go to South Africa or Dubai for two or three. With this arrangement corperative will pay for those willing to go but they have to pay back later.

How do you track your loans, especially huge loans with those who are due for retirement?

We have keyed into the system with FAAN. Before FAAN gives a clearance, you must come to corporative to do clearance. It is part of what they do; so if you are owning us it will indicate. In fact it will indicate how much you are owning us and it must be cleared before they pay such person’s gratuity.

What should the members expect this year?

They should be expecting better service. This year, we are trying to see how we can move forward. We are trying to see how we can enjoy more benefits than before. Last year, i told them that we are going to embark on massive investments. We want to come up as shareholders. We want them to buy shares. Everybody should buy shares, minimum of N10,000. You can buy more than that if you have the money. That will form our capital base of investment. For example, we are going to invest on this guesthouse we are trying to bring up. We are also going to look into other areas depending on how we are moving. But we don’t want to put too much projects at a go. We want to make sure one is completed before the other.
So all members including retired and the ones in service must have shares in the corperative. Even when you retire, you could continue to have your dividends because you have your shares.

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