After months of serene emptiness and bewilderment occasioned by economic adversity, the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo came alive, with people attending the epoch-making launch of “Osuwon Omoluabi”-the re-introduction of the culture of Standard Weights and Measures as the basis of commodity sales transactions after many years of guesswork purchasing.
This culture-changing event consistent with the vision enunciated by Governor Rauf Aregbesola in his famous “Six-Point Integral Action Plan” for the State’s accelerated and orderly development drew a large crowd of residents determined to put behind them the hard times and embark on the march toward expected economic recovery.
The official launch on June 15, 2016 of “Osuwon Omoluabi” and its compulsory use will ensure that buyers get value-for-money in these lean times. With this important step toward equity, weights and measures of quantities of goods sold and bought in markets of Osun, whether solid or liquid, bulk and retail commodities can now be verified and uniformity of standard ensured throughout the State.
The Introduction and use of 40,000 units of “Osuwon Omoluabi”in all markets in Osun will eliminate sharp practices, haggling and quarreling, introduce uniformity and make equivalent quantities of goods sold predictable, thus ending the short-changing of buyers while ensuring that sellers get a fair return on their sales. This will reinforce state government’s drive for honesty and integrity in matters of trade and attract more buyers to the State, thus reinforcing the Osun Brand reputation.
Thus, the State Government’s insistence on compulsory usage of this Scale in all markets marks a turning point in the life of the people of Osun, and indeed the South West of Nigeria. Yorubaland had an ancient practice of ensuring through counting that a fixed number of pieces of goods equivalent to One Penny was used as the basis of sales transactions of food items but it fell into disuse long ago and no decent replacement was found for this reliable age-old system.
This system was so effective that it ensured that even when a seller was absent, goods could be bought by simply placing a Penny coin next to the sample of goods displayed for sale and the goods collected.
As it is well known, what cannot be measured cannot be managed: These transactions favoured the clever and more psychological prepared seller but created a massive problem of standards and integrity which we now live with and has become the bane of our development. It has created a vicious circle of exploitation, resistance and unpredictability where people cannot plan their expenditure with reasonable assurance, and this gradually led to pervasive corruption and integrity gradually vacated the markets and this erosion eventually crept into all transactions.
The launch of “Osuwon Omoluabi” at the beginning of the Ramadan fasting when all Muslims are enjoined to embrace the spirit of repentance, sacrifice and piety, the government’s message that business transactions should be done with honesty and integrity should sink deep into hearts and minds, just as the Holy Quran enjoins
“And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with even balance, that is good and the best interpretation”- Quran 17 vs 35. Christians are in like manner reminded that “a false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight-Proverbs 11 vs 1. Now is the right time to end the perverse tradition of deceitful bargaining in our daily life, a throw-back to the age of the Barter Trade with all its disadvantages and embrace a new era of progress when we can be confident that transactions come with integrity because the standards of measurement and weights are the same everywhere.
To change this nationally damaging habit, there is a need to institute and enforce the strict use of Standards, Weights and Measures, and enforce price control for all goods traded in Nigeria, imported and locally made. All things are learnt and remain only by habit. We can reprogramme the behavior of Nigerians only when we cultivate and enforce new habits of honesty, integrity, love and care for our neighbours.
Introducing standards, weights and measures into daily transactions will help to educate our people and practically translate the theoretical mensuration taught in schools to daily life realities. Settling the issue of quantitative integrity will free us to concentrate on the more substantial issue of Quality, the final basis of integrity on our way to getting rid of substandard products that are soon spoilt and end up as pollutants and litters everywhere in Nigeria.
Keeping to the strict use of Standards, Weights and Measures will enable citizens get value for money and help the Naira to appreciate in value over time as Nigeria and Nigerians get used to this new way of life and acquire a new image and reputation of being trustworthy partners.
By instigating and initiating this effort, the Ministry of Industries, Commerce, Cooperatives and Empowerment of the Stat of Osun has pioneered a major grassroots effort to change the thinking of Nigeria by first changing our deeply ingrained habits.