This study examines the role of Voluntary and Open Membership Principle in societies. A survey method was used for the study. They were members of NNPC-KRPC Staff Multipurpose Cooperative Society. A 5-item questionnaire was used for the study. The questionnaire was based on liker scale. Four (4) research questions were developed to guide the study. Frequencies and mean scores were used as statistical analysis. Research findings show that Voluntary and Open Membership Principle is well followed can improve societies which can adequately promote the socio economic standard of members. It was recommended that good orientation should be given to members so as to make them abide by the principle.
Cooperative is a voluntary organization that is established within the people with common interest in cooperative there are some principles that guided the operation of cooperative business as stated by (ICA 1995). The first among the seven (7) principle is voluntary and open membership which is the area of consideration in this study.
The principle require that membership of any cooperative society should be left open to new intending members without any artificial restriction it means that cooperative societies are non exclusive clubs of a few person or as private companies.
The spirit behind this principle means that in cooperative societies, members have to view properly and business enterprises of the society not in the selfish, egocentric spirit of capitalism but in the cooperative spirit of solidarity and universal brotherhood. The society must be prepared to admit new members, it is like a work of social service to mankind, new members may come in and enjoy the fruits of the society built up by the old and past members.
Chukwu (1990) says advantage of cooperative openness is that open door policy of the cooperative not only makes good philosophy. It also makes cooperative movement to spread throughout the whole nation/world, thud making the benefits of membership good because of the process of integration.
Again, Amahalu (2006) says voluntary and open membership makes the business to increase volume by volume. The more people join the cooperative business, the greater the chance of the group achieving its objectives in terms of skills, capital volume of production and sales.
In cooperative practice voluntary and open membership is not absolute because there is need for selection, what we have in cooperative is “qualified openness” not everybody that apply has the automatic right to be admitted. Dishonest men, non Conformist, those whose purpose would detrimental to the aims of the society, or who will not obey the rules of the society, such people obviously would not be admitted.
Obodoechi (2002), explain that cooperative societies are not complete welfare organization with business entity there is need for selection because not everybody can meet the financial requirements like minimum share holding. Entrance fees monthly savings etc. Although cooperative law made the financial requirement to be small (minimum) but yet some may not afford it.
Further more, there is the need for selection in membership of cooperative organization because of the need for a limited degree of homogeneity e.g Farmers Marketing Cooperative Society cannot accept somebody who is not a farmer, a cooperative society that is for a particular church, mosque, school cannot accept one who is a member of the above mentioned groups.
Again cooperative voluntary and open membership is not absolute because cooperative law specified the minimum age for membership except infant cooperative organization. But the age specification differs from country to country and region to region.
Finally, the membership openness is not absolute in cooperative organization because the guidelines for membership are always clearly stated in the cooperative law and bye-law of individual societies. Any intending member must abide with the guideline before he/she is admitted and the society has the right to admit or not to admit but the right not to admit must be exercised rationally and not bitrarily.