by Mustafa Ahmed Tijani
About a month ago, the Osun state government introduced the use of standardized measuring scales and weight to traders in the state and the official launch was greeted with funfair in the state.
Since then however, i have watched on in amusement and sometimes in sheer disappointment at the reactions that the launch of the weight and scales has generated in the media.
While some of these reactions have been laughable , some have just been outrightly ignorant. Some have gone the the extent of questioning the importance of weights and scales to the government.
Firstly, i would like to clarify that the state government didn’t ” launch” weight and scales. It launched an ideology for fair trading and dealing in our commercial activities.
It is criminal to downplay the importance of such an initiative that has the power to turn around the way commercial transactions have been conducted to favor the trader for so long.
The “Osunwon Omoluabi” policy is backed by law, as Weights and Measures constitute item 63 on the Exclusive Legislative list of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Laws made in this regard include Weights and Measures Act CAP W3LFN, 2004, Pre-Shipment Inspection of Export Act CAP P25 LFN, 2004; Weights and Measures Standardization of Indigenous Measures Regulations, 1992 and the Weights and Measures Fees Regulations.
The advent of weights and scales are as old as time itself and even the holy books tell tale of a day when God would weight our deeds on scales of good and evil.
Commercially, weight and scales were introduced over 2500 years ago by the Egyptians who dealt in grains and other commodities and since then weights and scales have become a major component of fair trade the world over.
Nigeria was not left behind in embracing the use of weights and scales in trading but over the years the principle of fair play in commercial has been eroded and it is not an uncommon practice to see unfair weights and scales been used by traders to defraud unsuspecting consumers.
Corruption has eaten deep into the fiber of our very existence as a nation that we now would ridicule a genuine attempt by government to right the wrongs we have suffered over the years.
Traders in the state of Osun have been dealing with the “KONGO” as a means of measuring food items for sale, an idea that has been in existence since the day of the old Oyo state.
Traders however have mastered various ways of shortchanging customers with the use of unfair weights and scales. Some would fill the base of this scales with candle wax, while other would systematically trim of the top on the “KONGO”.
This much was affirmed by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who said during the launch that “Osunwon Omoluabi” will eliminates cheating and other underhand practices that have become the hallmark of trading in most markets.
In the quest to be competitive and make more profit, which is greed, traders now devise varying means of short-changing buyers. Measures are deliberately reduced through cutting, filling with candles and wax, and sleight of hand.
Scales are tilted fraudulently while husks, chaffs, barks and other rubbish are included in goods sold, with the intention of reducing the actual values of what the buyers take home.
Osun seeks to set itself apart in its drive to become the commercial hub of the South West and ultimately the whole country and so as acted to instill the basic but essential principle of fair play in trade deals.
The state government seeks to institutionalize the ideals fairness and consumer protection and root out shadiness of any form in the commercial sphere of the state.
A quick look at our neighboring countries like Benin Republic, Niger, Ghana and Togo will show exactly why this is what not just Osun but the whole of Nigeria needs.
As the old saying goes ” What cannot be measured, cannot be traded “. The idea of introducing standardized weights and scales is one that should be applauded rather than castigated.
it is also worthy of note that the state government sees this as a means of providing employment in the state as it stated that 178 OYES cadets have been trained in the maintenance and repair of scales in the first phase of the Train-the-Trainers Empowerment Scheme which is an integral part of the Standardized Weighing Scales Programme.
I look forward to the undeniable success of this brilliant initiative and the boom that it will bring to the state of Osun .
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija