Appraising Land Accessibility Under The Land Use Act (L.U.A)
This study appraised land accessibility under the Land Use Act. The case study area for this research has been Lagos state with special attention paid to the following local government areas in the state, namely: Lagos-Island local government, Apapa local government, Mushin Local Government, and Ikeja local government.
A total of 80 questionnaires were administered with 20 being given to each local government and a total of 65 questionnaires were retrieved. The procedure for simple random selection goes thus: A list of 80 potential respondents’ in Lagos metropolis was drawn from the above four mentioned local government areas, which have the knowledge concerning land accessibility and judgemental sampling technique was used to select the final sample for the study, i.e. the division of the population of a given area in the state into four (4) major local government areas. Simple random selection was done to determine the exact respondents that will form the above average respondents for the study.
The data analysis and interpretation were used to highlight how the Land Use Act has affected access to development of land within the study area.
The recommendations and the concluding remarks emphasized the need for an enabling land instruments to administer land and make it readily available to the poor people in the society.
1.1 Background to the study
One problematic issue in Nigeria now is having access to urban land, especially housing, commercial, industrial, recreational, and other urban development projects like infrastructural and social amenities. Because of this chronic shortage of urban land, prices have shot up incredibly, leaving most urban residents in fear that they might never be able to have their own house. Some who manage to secure urban land especially through land-owning families pay for such land twice or thrice, depending on how many floors they want to build. This has become the practice in many parts of Lagos. This shows that the demand for land in Lagos metropolis is extremely competitive.
Since the urban land is not easily accessible in the city, land thugs are having a field day grabbing land belonging to other people. Land owners too are not immune to the temptation of selling the same land to many buyers and even invading government land. This has made buying land in Lagos a very risky endeavour especially when the buyer fails to engage the services of professionals in handling the land transaction. The failure to engage the services of professionals is probably due to lack of fund or ignorance.
Lagos state is obviously faced with the general problems of accessibility to land. And studies shows that, one of the major problems of land accessibility is government policies and laws which emanated from enactment of the land use Act of 1978 (Umezuruike 2003). The Act nationalized all lands in the country (Iseh2003). Access to land in Nigeria is affected by the operation of land use Act. Its operation so far seems to have created more of bottleneck (Omirin 2003). The land use Act created serious problems for land management in the entire country (Mabogunje, 20003). Land speculation, racketeering, and thuggry had been on the increase (Udo, 1996). Though researches on land accessibility under the land use Act in Lagos is limited. The aim of this study is to appraise land accessibility under the Land Use Act in Lagos.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
An increasing proportion of the rapidly growing world population is attempting to satisfy its economic and social needs and desires in an urban context. The enormous migration of people into cities and towns has probably produced an uncontrollable urban explosion, an unprecedented increase in population, and greater demands on the urban infrastructure. The increasing population has led to a higher demand for urban land. This has made the demand for land far higher than its supply. Its physical supply is highly limited even as the demand for its use is increasing daily. As earlier stated in the background to this study, one of the problematic issues in Nigeria now is having access to urban land. Land is an important issue in every society. It affects all activities of man such as social, cultural, economic, political, religious etc.
Due to the increase in the demand for land which has led to extreme competition for available land, this has encouraged the practice of multiple sales of the same land to different buyers by land owning families. It has also led to tremendous land speculation and a subsequent rise in the prices of land. It has also created inequality in land ownership and increasing landlessness among the poorer segments of the population.
Before the land use Act, there was a multiplicity of land tenure systems in the country. Apart from the system in the Lagos Colony where an English freehold system had been established following its annexation in 1861, these diverse systems can be grouped broadly into two categories. The first obtained in the Northern Nigeria where the colonial administration has placed all lands under the control and subject to the disposition of the Governor. The second system that obtained in Southern Nigeria recognized that land was owned by lineages or extended families.
Individuals have only right of use on such family land. The only land held at the governor’s disposal was that which had been expressly acquired for public purposes as crown land. The control imposed by law on the lineages and other local landholders was an obligation to seek the consent of government when rights are being conveyed to aliens.
Faced with these contrasting land tenure systems and the considerable trouble in getting land for public purposes, especially in the southern Nigeria, the military government under General Olusegun Obasanjo sought to unify the two systems in the country through the land use decree of 1978.
The land use decree of 1978 (now the land use Act of 1978) nationalized all lands in Nigeria. It has been three decades ago since the Land Use Act has been promulgated and access to land is still one of the most problematic issues in Nigeria. This calls for the need to appraise land accessibility under the Land Use Act (L.U.A) in Lagos.
1.3 The Objectives of the Study:
To achieve the aim of the study, the following objectives were pursued: –
- To determine the extent to which the objectives of the Land Use Act has been achieved;
- To identify the various socio-economic problems generated by the Land Use Act on property development;
- To determine the effect of the Land Use Act on land accessibility, acquisition and security of title on property development; and
- To recommend better area of study on the Act with respect to property development as a means of providing effective strategy for increasing property stock.
1.4 Research Questions:
To achieve the aim and objectives of the study the following questions and hypotheses were raised:
- Has the objective of the Land Use Act in making land readily and easily accessible for Nigerian been achieved?
- What are the problems prompted by the Land Use Act to property development in Lagos?
- Has property development in Lagos witnessed any socio-economic problems?
- Has the Land Use Act enhanced land acquisition, ease of accessibility and security of title for property development or has it retarded them.
- How can the development of properties be encouraged in Lagos?
- What is the best approach to tackle the controversial problems generated by the Land Use Act with respect to property development?
1.5 Research Hypothesis:
- Null Hypothesis (Ho) – The Land Use Act did not create any problem to the ease of accessibility to land for property development in Lagos.
- Alternative Hypothesis (H1) – The Land Use Act has created problems to the ease of accessibility to land for property development in Lagos.
- Null Hypothesis (Ho) – The Land Use Act has not imposed any difficulty in land acquisition for property development in Lagos.
- Alternative Hypothesis (H1) – The Land Use Act has imposed some difficulties on land acquisition for property development in Lagos.
- Null Hypothesis (Ho) – The Land Use Act has promoted security of title to land for property development in Lagos.
- Alternative Hypothesis (H1) – The Land Use Act has not promoted security of title to land for property development in Lagos.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Land, which refers to the earth’s surface extending downward to the centre of the earth and upward to infinity, including those things permanently attached by nature, such as trees and water, is an important issue in every society. This is because it affects all activities of man, be they social, cultural, economic, political religious etc.
As stated earlier in the background to this study, one problematic issue in Nigeria now is having access to urban land, especially land for housing, commercial, industrial recreational and other urban development projects. There is chronic shortage of land and extreme competition for available land, which has led to high cost of land. The land use Act was promulgated three decades ago to address these problems. There is therefore need to appraise land accessibility under the land use Act in Lagos.
This study will be significant to potential real estate investors, financial institutions, real estate surveyors and valuers, estate agents, land owners, lawyers, estate management lecturers, students of tertiary institutions, and government.
1.7 Scope of the Study
In scope, the study covers the accessibility of land in Lagos. Under the Land Use Act, the study is designed such that it identifies the land in Lagos, examine the Land Use Act, examine land accessibility in Lagos before the land use Act, appraise land accessibility in Lagos under the Land Use Act, analyse land accessibility in Lagos under the act through structured questionnaires and make conclusions and recommendation from the analyzed questionnaires. However, the research covers both the Island and Mainland of the state.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Access to urban Land:
This refers to the ability to procure and possess any developable plot within an urban area. In the content of this study, it covers the period of scouting for the land, payment, conveyance and registration, before development is expected to commence. This is the stage when your right to land is secured and unchallenged. However, such land to be accessed must be available, affordable with well secure tenure which can also be transferred easily.
Certificate of Occupancy (C of O):
This is a certificate issued by the governor of a state in Nigeria certifying the previous grant of statutory rights of occupancy usually through a letter of allocation/offer. As stipulated in (section 5(1) of the LUA, 1978). Or certifying the deemed grant of statutory right of occupancy under section 9. So as to exclude the local government declared all lands in the state as urban land.
land is defined as the earth’s surface extending downward to the centre of the earth and upward to infinity, including those things permanently attached by nature, such as trees, water etc.
Land Use Act (L.U.A):
The Land Use Act is a law promulgated in 1978 by the military government under General Olusegun Obasanjo to unify the land tenure systems of the country. It was promulgated as Land Use Decree No. 6 of 1978 with effect from 29 March 1978.
Land Use and Advisory Committee:
This is a body established for each Local Government by the Act and shall have responsibility for advising the Local Government on any matter connected with the management of land within the area of jurisdiction of which the land is situated.
Land use Allocation Committee:
This is a committee set up under section 2 of the land use Act to advice the governor on any matter connected with the management of urban land within the state.
This is a special form of state allocation process. It is a process whereby government condones the illegality of certain squatters on government acquired lands. Such condonement can only be granted if such developed lands are not within government’s committed scheme, under high-tension power lines, within way of public infrastructure and utilities, and where the buildings and layouts do not contravene government regulations.
1.9 Plan of the Study
The study is organized into five main chapters.
- Chapter one presented the overview of the study.
- Chapter two would focus on review of relevant literature to the research.
- Chapter three would present the research method needed to achieve the aim and objectives of the study.
- Chapter four would report the empirical results and discuss the findings while
- Chapter five would conclude the study and recommend solutions to the findings.
5.0 Discussions and Implication, Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Discussions and Implications:
The issue of the effects of the Land Use Act of 1978 is important to consider in every state as it functions to regulate Land Use system which eventually affects property development. This research work is aimed at analyzing the effects of the Land Use Act of 1978 as measured in terms of ease of accessibility, ease of acquisition and security of title to land for property development in Lagos State.
Before the promulgation of the Land Use Act of 1978, it was clearly observed that there was no uniformity in land operation which poses untold difficulty in assessing to land by an average Nigerian. Based on the foregoing the then Head of State set up a committee that itemized four major reasons for the promulgation of the Act. These include:
- To remove the bitter controversies resulting at times in loss of lives and limbs, which land is known to be generating
- To streamline and simplify the management and ownership of land in the country
- To assist the Nigerian individual, irrespective of his social status to realize his ambition and aspiration of owing a place where the citizenry and his family will live a secure and peaceful life.
- To enable the government to bring under control the use to which land can be put in all parts of the country and thus facilitate planning and zoning programmes for particular uses.
To these may be added the following implicit objectives:
- To reduce the quantum of compensation payable for kind compulsorily acquired by public authorities thereby facilitating the establishment of public projects or development schemes
- To make land easily available to the government, government agencies and other public bodies for the performance of their functions
- To eradicate completely or reduce drastically the practice of land speculation in the country.
It follows therefore, that the Act empowers the governor of a state to set up Land Use and Allocation Committee, which however will not be autonomous. Due to this lack of autonomy of committee the government still has a controlling influence over it which works out at the expanse of the general public thereby defeating the general claim of the Act that it is intended to benefit all and sundry. This in turn led to serious insecurity of title to land, difficulty in land acquisition and inaccessibility to land especially to private land investors.
In Lagos State there has been this controversy amongst members of the committee that any application for land from the governor should be treated with urgency as against the necessary process/stages required. This preferential treatment, created a bias in the mind of ordinary citizens who may desire to acquire land for property development. The issue of preference to applications of indigenes against non-indigenes has created a serious problem and hindrances to land investors who may not be citizens of Lagos State; which also conflicts with the preamble to the Act that the land of Nigeria should be used by all Nigerians.
Though the preamble of the Act and the objectives enunciated for its promulgation would present a picture of an Act aimed at enhancing the quality of life of all Nigerians through a liberal land policy an unbiased consideration of the overall provisions of the Act would readily reveal that its general intendment is to favour government policies respecting land.
Granting that this observation is true, it can then be said that the Land Use Act has stimulated public property development at the detriment of private property development.
More so, section 5 of the Act authorizes the governor to grant rights of occupancy in respect of any piece of land (urban or rural) to any person for all purposes. It is observed that, too many responsibilities have been assigned to the governor with the result that it seriously ties down the quick processing of the application brought to him.
In Lagos the problem is compounded by the non-delegation of this power to another officer.
Further more, when land is compulsorily acquired for overriding public interest, compensation is supposed to be paid for such land. Prior to the promulgation of the Act, assessment of compensation for land compulsorily purchased was governed by the Public Lands Acquisition Act, 1976 section 15 of the Act states the basis of computing such compensation as follows: –
- No allowance shall be made on account of the acquisition being compulsorys
- The value of the land, estate, interest or profit shall be fair market value of such land, estate, interest or profits. Open Market Value being such a value of the land if sold in an Open Market by a willing seller to a willing buyer with knowledge of all the disadvantages and advantages to which the land can be put after being properly advertised.
- Where part of the land is acquired, the court may take into account any enhancement of the value of the residue by reason of the proximity of any improvements or works made, constructed or to be constructed by the government.
- The court may also have regard, not only to the value of the land, interest, estate or profits to be acquired but also to the damage if any sustainable by the owner by reasons of severance of such land from other lands belonging to such owner or other injurious affections.
It follows that dispossessed landowners are being treated unfairly and unjustly since they will be under- paid.
5.2 Summary of Findings:
This study primarily focused on the analysis of the effect of the Land Use Act on property development in Nigeria, with Lagos Urban as the case study. It investigated the effects whether positive or negative which the Land Use Act has on property development. Based on the analysis of the data collected; the following findings have emerged from the work;
- The Land Use Act of 1978 has not enhanced land acquisition for property development. It has rather impeded growth of real property development by imposing difficulty on the process of acquiring land by an ordinary citizen.
- The process of accessing land is characterized by procedural delays and red tapism. The process of obtaining access to land beginning from the identification of acceptable site through obtaining Governor’s consent down to the issuance and collection of certificate of occupancy is cumbersome and therefore very expensive. Some times it may take up to two years to achieve; leading to the abandonment of the effortmidway.
- Based on the cumbersome process of land acquisition, people tend to resort to informal land market which doesn’t guarantee security of title to land and which also encourages fraudulent dealings onland.
- Landowners no longer enjoy security of ownership of land in the sense that some mischievous state governors may under section 28 of the Act revoke the right of occupancy of any person under the guise of “public purpose”.
- There is inequitable allocation of the available developable land in favour of the well-to-do or the well connected in the society at the expense of the poor who are actually in need of the plots to carry out one or the other types of development.
- The vesting of sole power to the governor to hold in trust for the citizen limited the ease to which a common Nigeria can access to land for property development.
- That there is inefficient implementation of the Act based on the lack of skilled manpower with required integrity to serve in the land use and allocation committee.
- The delay in issuing of certificates of occupancy to applicants makes it impossible for developers to obtain loan from financial institutions which invariably causes delay to the development.
- The limitation imposed on the number of hectarage granted to individual makes it impossible for large estate developers to operate effectively.
- The nature and manner of political system has frustrated the efficient implementation of the Act.
Despite antecedent problems created by the Land Use Act of 1978, it was also clearly observed that the Land Use Act has created land consciousness on Nigerians. It grants them a sense of belonging as far as Nigerian Land is concerned. It is also seem that the Act has curbed the activities of the Landed gentries who speculates on land
The study has carried out investigation collected and analysed the data leading to the decision that the Land Use Act of 1978 has retarded the rate of property development in Nigeria.
In spite of the sentimentally packed concept in the preamble to the Act to the effect that it is in the public interest the rights of all Nigerians to use and enjoy land in sufficient quantity to enable them to provide for their families was dashed to the ground.
The Nigerian citizens still find it as difficult as before to access to land on which they can erect their shelter. The vesting of land to the hands of the governor has also created insecurity for title to land which also limit the level of land acquisition for a common citizen. It is conclusive to say that the attainment of the co-operate goals of the
Act through property provision may never be possible if the operations of the Land Use Act are not committed to proving well planned procedure for their ministry of Lands.
There is undue delay in obtaining consent before ones interest in land can be alienated. These shortcomings and many others incorporated in the Act do not augur well, especially for private property developers. Therefore the operators of the Act should sincerely ensure that the right of every Nigerian to shelter is assured, protected and preserved.
In order that the problems imposed by the Land Use Act of 1978 on the rate of property development is solved, we recommend as follows:
- There is need for statutory reshaping of the Act to promote people’s access to Land Rights, so as to improve access to land and guarantee effective property development.
- Some stipulations of the Land Use Act need to be re-visited for a review so as to eliminate ambiguity of expression, resentment as well as rivalry and conflict of authority which causes serious obstruction to the implementation of the Act.
- The Act should expressly provide for all the requirements – ownership, control, management, nature of use, and manner of distribution of land among the citizens.
- Direct State allocation is recommended such that the Act should guarantee access to developable land for those citizens deprived of theirs through the process of revocation of land for public purposes.
- The management should deploy experienced and well-motivated staff which will provide a conducive environment for identification of weakness in the system of control. Such arrangement could also assist in reducing the incidence of frauds which is very prevalent in the ministry these days.
- A holder of a certificate of occupancy should have exclusive possession against all persons including the governor and hisdelegates.
- The procedure for land acquisition should be made less cumbersome, since this poses great problems to those who seek land for development purposes.
- Appropriate definite time frame should be fixed as the maximum for the processing, issuance and collection of certificate of occupancy.
- There is need to maintain a stable government in order to enforce a well managed National Development Plan.
- It should be made mandatory that such state government should provide annually specified number of serviced plots to be distributed equitably among the cross section of the citizens.
- Finally, the government should aim at providing adequate planning authority, monitoring and evaluation committee who will serve as a watchdog to the activities of the land operators.
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