By Gbenga Olarinoye, Osogbo
Governor Rauf Aregbesola has left no one in doubt about his ability since his assumption of office about five years ago. One of his new innovations is the one the administration is currently tinkering with through the introduction of standard measure and scale for transactions in all markets in the state.
The plastic measure size that is being used in the state at the moment was inherited from Oyo State when Osun was carved out of the state on August 27, 1991, and since then, no administration had paid attention to several complaints from buyers about the undue advantage the measure, used mainly to sell grains, affords sellers.
There are insinuations that the plastic measure that is currently in use in the state shortchanges buyers for they do not get the real value for what they pay for, meaning that buyers have been paying for items not supplied to them. Also, from findings in the state, notwithstanding usage of weight to sell frozen foods in many towns, there have never been a generally accepted government approved weight.
The implication of this is that sellers of frozen foods have been employing whatever weight they find good for them to sell to consumers, who have been left with no choice than accept the situation.
However, in many instances, disagreement over measure have led to major threat to public peace. Despite the fact that many of the fights occasioned by disagreements over measure are largely unreported, a few incidents have even gone up to litigation level, especially those ones involving dealers in cash crops.
It is apparently for peace to reign, and for all sides not to be cheated, that the Osun State Government concluded arrangements towards the introduction of standardized weight and measuring scales in transacting business and commerce in all markets across the state.
The project had been in the pipeline for more than two years, during which sensitization and enlightenment had been done, especially among market women and men and other stakeholders on the need to use standardized measuring gauge and weight for transacting commercial activities in the state.
From all indications, the initial fear that the new innovation would be rejected by market men and women have been discovered to be unfounded. The project has been welcomed by market men and women as well as other stakeholders, while more than 40,000 customized measuring weights and gauges have been procured by the state government for distribution to stakeholders at affordable prices.
Explaining why Aregbesola’s administration is introducing standardized weight and measure during visits to markets across nine cities in the state, former Commissioner for Commerce, Industries, Cooperatives and Empowerment, Mr. Ismail Adekunle Jaiyeoba Alagbada said that the establishment of standardized weight and measure in the state was a Federal Government law being made active in Osun State.
He explained that weights and measures constitute item 63 on the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is, only the Federal Government can legislate on weights and measures in the country.
The laws made in this respect include Weights and Measures Act CAP W3LFN, 2004 (formally Weights and Measures ACT CAP 467LFN 1999); Pre-Shipment Inspection of Export Act CAP P25LFN, 2004; Weights and Measures Standardization of Indigenous Measures Regulations, 1992; and the Weights and Measures Fees Regulations.
Alagbada maintained that standardized weights and measures is critical to establishing consumers’ confidence and equity, adding that all over the world, standardizing weights and measurements is critical to equity and justice in an effort to establish consumers’ confidence and economic security.
Alagbada further explained: “When a housewife buys a bowl of beans and when a butcher sells his portion of meat, there is an implied faith that as goods are exchanged for money, there is the same just balance for buyer and seller.
“However, experiences in almost all present-day commercial transactions indicate that such faith is often lacking. Great variations exist in the weights and measures used in different localities; and even at times, in those used by different individuals in the same locality.”
The Coordinating Director on the project, Mr. Osho Abimbola, while addressing market women, stressed further on the importance of the weight and measure, saying that the programme when it became operational in the state, would create large number of business and employment opportunities for citizens of the state as large number of unemployed youths in the state could acquire vocational training in repairs and maintenance of scales.
Speaking on the project during the visits, the President of Market Women in the state, Alhaja Asiahu Ashindemade, explained that the government had interacted with the association on the introduction of weights and measures, assuring that her members were ready to comply with the Federal Government’s directive.
To ensure hitch-free implementation, Alagbada disclosed that monitoring units would be placed at strategic locations across the state to ensure compliance, adding that the control posts to be manned by cadets of Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme, OYES, are there for people to visit and complain whether they have been cheated or not.