By Solomon Odeniyi, Mariam Ajetunmobi
The government of the state of Osun introduced the standardized weighing scales popularly called Osuwon Omoluabi to eliminate cheating and other underhand practices which has become the hallmark of trading in most markets in the state.
The introduction according to the governor was backed by item 63 on the exclusive legislative list of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
With the introduction, it was hoped that it would give rise to a chain of economic benefits which will ensure increase in the demand for products as well as help return the state to its former position as the centre of trade in southwest.
Two years down the line the policy has witnessed partial or no compliance. A visit by our correspondents to some markets in the state capital showed that some had the scale but prefer not to use, while many do not and others have adjusted the standard measurements to their advantage.
At Akindeko market in Osogbo, only traders who sell catfish, frozen foods, meat and just few of those dealing with food stuffs like rice, beans and garri were making use of the Omoluabi scale, while traders of pepper are yet to embrace the weighing policy of the state.
When confronted, one of the defaulters declined to speak with our correspondents and efforts to get market official to comment on this proved abortive. The Iyaloja was said to be out of the state, and would not be returning anytime soon.
Also at the Orinsunbare market, though, not a market known for selling food items, the level of compliance however, was not impressive.
The Iyaloja, of the market, Latona Mojeedat, blamed it on the laggard nature of the market women in the state, adding that the level of compliance seen could be attributed to the tireless efforts of other market officials.
She said: “The Osunwon Omoluabi of a thing is very good, if we can just allow its use in the market. This is what has been in use in other countries of the world; it is not only peculiar to our state here. It is of benefit to all, whether you are a trader or a buyer. It helps to win the trust of customer. However, the rigid natures of humans towards embracing innovations have dealt a huge blow to the policy. The level of compliance so far has been as a result of our tireless efforts. We have been pleading and we won’t stop’’.
Our reporters’ effort to get to know why some of the traders at Igbona market were not using the scale led to an outburst. The group of traders said that at Ilesha where they bought their goods, the scale was not used.
They added that the government did not do well by not distributing the said scale for free, if it actually wanted full compliance.
A cross section of consumers our correspondents spoke with blamed the self-centeredness of the traders, and the government’s inability to use force on defaulters.
Mrs Raheem Olawunmi, blamed the partial or non-compliance on the excessive profit habit of traders, urging the government and Market officials to make the rule more strict to defaulters.
She said; “I still do not know why traders have not fully complied. The use of scales is of benefit to both buyers and sellers. Buyers will see what they are buying. Those yet to embrace this are those wanting to make excessive gains. The government needs to be more strict with defaulters and need to introduce more punitive measures to ensure compliance”.
A woman who simply gave her name as Iya Seun said even with the scale, the purpose has not been achieved.
She said a rubber of rice was supposed to weight 1.70 but at each time she had had course to re-measure, she gets 1.65, adding that either the scale has been manipulated or the rubber used to measure.