Human needs are insatiable and the want for land is no different. In fact, virtually all human activities require land. The Land tenure system in Nigeria and its effectiveness is the focus of this article.
Due to the diverse needs of different human activities with respect to location and quantity of land, there is often an intense competition for land, which is limited as a result of unprecedented urbanization in our cities.
This often leads to disputes and conflicts in the management and use of land, particularly with respect to customary land. And, central to these disputes and conflicts is the issue of security of tenure; which does not only include tenure issues as the way in which rights, restrictions and responsibilities that people have with respect to land are held, but, also demands an enabling land administration as the process of determining, recording and disseminating information about tenure, value and use.
Land and property are generally the most important assets any country can pose. Land is a fundamental factor for agriculture production and is thus directly linked to food security. Reforms of land administration in any country most especially in sub-Saharan Africa is a long term prospect requiring decades of sustained commitment, political stability, conflict free or minimized environment, strong political will on the part of government and good governance.
It is both capital and human resources intensive and requires strong and consistent leadership. Security of tenure is another important aspect that cannot be over emphasized in other to achieve economic development, while property taxes are often significant sources of government revenue, particularly at the local level.
Land registration in urban land management is necessary to determine record, reduce conflicts and disseminate information about ownership, value and use of land. Land management has been defined by (UN-ECE 2005) as: the processes of decision making , whereby resources are allocated over space and time desires of man within the framework of his technological inventiveness, his political and social institutions, and his legal and administrative arrangement.
Land registration is an equally critical aspect in creating a real estate market, unfortunately in Nigeria; “it is not clear what the status of registering a Statutory Certificate of Occupancy is in the context of the present Land Use Act.
What rights does the Certificate actually confer on its owner since any subsequent transfers or transactions in the land covered by the certificate still require the consent of the Governor of the State.
This insistence of always securing the consent of the state Governor, either; to assign or to mortgage a property has been the greatest impediment to the development of the real estate market in Nigeria. Apart from the delay in granting such consent, some state Government use the requirement to extract unwarranted fees from owners of such certificates.
This unfortunate development forces many people to continue to operate in the informal market for much of their land transactions and makes it difficult to manage the real estate resources and the real estate market in the country more effectively.”
Land reform is not short term measures. It is a long term commitment.
The land registry in Lagos is currently the must developed land registry in Nigeria. Lagos is regarded as the largest and the fastest growing city in Africa. With a population estimated at 1.3 Million in 1992, Lagos is now home to more than 21 million people.
The machinery of urban land management and administration at present in Nigeria is considered inefficient; there is need for reform of the existing Land Use Act. Though a constitutional issue, some part of the act needs to be modified; through examination of the functions, organization and effectiveness of the ministries and other agencies dealing with land matters.
Land policy is a complex, and long-term issue. International communities involved in supporting the land registration agenda in sub-Saharan Africa, need to be cognizant of local conditions and issues and work constructively and flexibly.
There is no template for land registration policy and every country has its own unique social, economic, political, environmental, historical, ethnic, cultural, and religious. A number of alternative land policy measures in Nigeria have been suggested; ranging from cadastral survey, land use zoning concept, removal of the Land Use Act from the constitution to land taxation.
Also, combating corruption, gender imbalance, neglect of the infected HIV/AIDS members of the society in access to land and land registration process, in the land sector, must be accorded global attention.
Land information should be readily available and people should be guaranteed open access to all information.