• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Land Use Act review seen improving economic growth, people’s wellbeing

Land Use Act review seen improving economic growth, people’s wellbeing

The Federal Government of Nigeria disclosed on Wednesday that it had commenced process of the review of the Land Use Act which, according to experts, will improve the country’s economic growth and well being of its people.

The experts explained to BusinessDay that the review would remove many of the unintended consequences of the Act which was enacted by the Olusegun Obasanjo military government in 1978.

Godwin Ityoachimin, Director, Lands and Housing at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, who disclosed the government’s intention to review the Act, said that the review had become necessary in order to address the friction between state and federal governments on land administration.

The friction, which is part of the unintended consequences of the Act, Ityoachimin noted, had impeded promises made to Nigerians in terms of infrastructure and housing provision.

He spoke at the 27th conference of Directors of Lands in the Federal and State ministries held in Abuja with the theme, ‘The Land Use Act and Management Responsibilities of the Federating Units’.

According to him, the conference was aimed to take a critical look at the Act and its inherent challenges, adding that the Act was the ground law for the administration and control of land in Nigeria since 1978.

Reacting to this, MKO Balogun, CEO, Global PFI, said that “the review of the Land Use Act is a welcome development; it is long overdue because it holds the key to economic development and people’s wellbeing. Availability and easy access to land encourage investment which creates both wealth and jobs for the people.”

Balogun noted that from traditional, economic and industrial perspectives, land was very important and as a factor of production, it was the most unique and strategic of all the other factors including capital, labour and enterprise such that its availability plays a pivotal role in the development of any economy and it increases investment inflow.

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“Industrialisation, housing development, agriculture, mining, oil exploration and other economic and productive activities that lead to improved standard of living, job creation, economic growth, among others, are possible only when land is available and accessible for such purposes,” he said.

Baolgun, however, advised that the government alone should not do the review, but should involve all the stakeholders in the housing sector. “We need to come together, discuss and agree on what is good and relevant for the sector. It is not a matter for the government alone,” he said.

Responding to our reporter’s question on what to expect from the review of the Land Use Act, Yemi Madamidola, an estate manager, recalled that the Act which was aimed to ease access to land for housing, industrial and other economic purposes vested ownership of land on state governors.

“But the governors have bungled its implementation; land has now become a political tool in the hands of the governors. It is used for political patronage or victimization, depending on the side of the divide the prospective beneficiary stands,” Madamidola noted.

He stressed that the review of the Act was the only way to solve the the governor’s consent, certificate of occupancy and other land titles challenges that tend to be punitive on property developers and other investors requiring land to set up their businesses.

Madamidola cited a World Bank report which says, “improving land governance is vital for achieving rapid economic growth and translating it into less poverty and more opportunity for the people,” adding, if African countries and their communities could effectively end land grabbing and modernize the complex governance procedures that govern land ownership and management, it will bring about improved well being and standard of living of their people.”

Becky Olubukola, Managing Director, BSTAN Group, also welcomed the review of the Act, blaming the low housing delivery in the country on the impact of the Act.

According to her, “in Nigeria, we are barely providing 100,000 homes annually; Kenya is building 100,000 homes every year. The housing sector has the capacity to solve 50 per cent of problems facing the nation as it can increase the GDP of the country by 35 per cent if harnessed properly.”