Osunwon Omoluabi: End to business fraud in Osun
In its efforts to prevent cheats from taking advantage of unsuspecting customers, the Osun State government has introduced scale and weight standard for use in markets across the state. In the circumstances, Governor Rauf
Aregbesola formally launched the scales and weight instruments and officially outlawed the old practice of transacting business using plastic bowls such as kongo, denge, kobiowu, dana and tin, among others that often results in several complaints and frictions among the buyers and sellers in most markets across the state.
In their stead, the state government introduced standard gauge and weight measurement through the use of scales for transaction of businesses. The new method was aimed at eliminating problems associated with the old measuring practices.
Deliberate alteration of measures; not measured fully to standard by trimming the head, melting and layering the plastic bowls and other containers with candles to reduce container size; deliberate distortion of bottles to reduce their content capacity and unhygienic conditions of the bottles, tins and others used for measuring liquid items are some of the causes of frequent friction among buyers and sellers in most markets.
While launching the standardised weights and measuring scales known as Osunwon Omoluabi at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Governor Rauf Aregbesola said fair and honest trade rest on the use of accurate weights and measures.
Aregbesola said: “No business can be conducted satisfactorily unless each person is sure the other person is fair and honest.”
He further stated that the scheme would eliminate cheating and other malpractices that have become the hallmark of doing business in most markets.
The governor maintained that the use of standardised scales in markets across the state will engender a chain of economic benefits, adding that dealers in weighing scales would experience business expansion as the programme will ensure increase in the demand of their products.
Aregbesola said the move was to make the state the preferred destination for commercial activities in the sub-region, reiterating that his administration would not relent in its efforts to increase economic activities.
He said: ”In the quest to be competitive and make more profit, which is greed, traders 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 value of what the buyers take home.
“One of the tragedies of this immoral practice is that foreigners began to distrust our export because, for instance, cocoa graders put top grades at the top of the sack, leaving poor quality at the bottom, and in the process, collect money for the top grade. Those who are in the business can tell you what loss they suffered because foreigners distrusted their products and classified all cocoa coming from our land as inferior, irrespective of the grade.”
The Governor maintained that the introduction of standardised weights and measures was a Federal Government’s law being replicated in the state.
He explained that weights and measures constitute item 63 on the Exclusive Legislatives 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 various laws made in this respect include Weights and Measures Act CAP W3LFN, 2004, Pre-Shipment Inspection of Export Act CAP P25 LFN, 2004; Weights and Measures Standardisation of Indigenous Measures Regulations, 1992 and the Weights and Measures Fees Regulations.
“The legislations are geared toward ensuring that products are not under-dispensed at markets, factories, oil and gas stations and crude oil depot in Nigeria,” he said.
The Coordinator of the scheme, Mr. Ismaila Adekunle Jayeoba-Alagbada, who is the former Commissioner for Industries, Commerce, Co-operatives and Empowerment, hinted that the standardised weighing scale across markets in the state became necessary in order to mitigate challenges noticeable in commercial transactions.
Jayeoba-Alagbada said in order to eradicate cheating in the process of exchange of commercial goods and checkmate other challenges of market forces, government decided to formally introduce the standardised weighing scales.
He stated that training workshops had already been conducted in the markets all over the state on the effective use of the scales.
He stated that the Ministry of Industries, Commerce, Co-operatives and Empowerment is saddled with the responsibility of monitoring the day-to-day administration of the programme.
He said: “I need to emphasise that market men and women had been fully mobilised to key into this emerging commercial revolution. Both the leadership and the followership of the associations of market women and men had agreed, not only to comply with the right use of the scales and measures but also to continuously carry out peer reviews with a view to ensuring flawless implementation of the standardised weighing scales and measures programme. I want to place it on record that, but for the grace of God and the dogged determination of Mr. Governor, this launch, and indeed the entire standardised scales and measures programme would have been a mirage.”
He revealed that 178 OYES cadets have been trained under the train-the-trainer programme on the use, maintenance and repairs of the new measuring scales. The OYES cadet would also man some control posts in all the markets to serve both as repair and challenge-mitigating centres.
Speaking on the new scale, the President-General of Osun State Market Women Association, Alhaja Awawu Asindemade, said the standardised scale became necessary due to imbalance in measurement and fraud in commercial activities.
Asindemade said the kongo measurement introduced to the market in the old Oyo State became the standard measurement in Osun State when it was created. According to her, the old measurement was gradually subjected to abuse and fraud to the extent that individual seller used his or her yardstick for measurement, thus the need to re-standardise and unify it.
She, however, warned that the introduction of the standard scale should not translate to increase in prices of commodity in the markets.
“It is in a bid to correct the anomaly in measurement and scale that the Osun State government introduced the standardised weighing scales in markets so as to forestall fraud and cheating in measurements. As we embrace this innovation, I call on market men and women to co-operate with government to make this a success. Besides, introduction of the weight and measurement does not and should not lead to increase in price of commodities in our markets.”
The state government, however, subsidised the new measuring scales for the traders. For instance, from the supplier in Lagos, a 150kg platform is sold for N38, 500, but the state government is selling it at N28, 500. The prices of the scales are: 150kg (table) N8, 500, 20kg N2, 500, 10kg 2,500, while 5kg is N2, 000.