A REVIEW OF LAND ADMINISTRATION REFORMS IN NIGERIA. BY:- MARTINS T. ADENIPEKUN DEPT. OF ESTATE MANAGEMENT, LAGOS STATE POLYTECHNIC,IKORODU, LAGOS. [email protected]. com, 08023167702, 08036317528. ABSTRACT Administration of land is as ancient as the creation of man. In Nigeria, the socio-economic and political factors had overtime brought about different administrative reforms put in place to foster developments. Certain patterns of land administration had emerged in Nigeria before and after the colonial administration but failed to meet up with the challenges that brought them in place.
This paper therefore is an attempt to appraise the various land administration systems in Nigeria to date. It focuses at the systems of land resources management traditionally before the colonial era, compared with the changes established by the British Administration and to the present dispensation. The paper concludes with suggestions that could meet the challenges of the present time national land resources management. KEY WORDS: LAND, ADMINISTRATION, REFORM, PROPRIETARY RIGHT 1. 0 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Land Administration or management of land generally focuses on the various policy changes put in place over time. Within the context of this topic, the following interpretations would be used in this discourse. The term “Land” is a word of many meanings which suggests different things to different people based upon their outlook, interest, and assessment at the moment. Land is synonymous to life as all aspects of human activities touches on land. Conceptually, land in African perspective is thought of as: spirit, space, situation, nature, factor of production, consumption good, property, and capital.
With the continued process of modern civilization as well as population pressure and urbanization on the fixed land resources of the earth, the perception of land as a “free good” has shifted greatly. Land is now better appreciated as a “basic economic good”. The definition as well as the determination of the various interests in land (ownership, usufructuary, freehold, leasehold, customary, or statutory) constitutes the legal aspects of the land without which the meaning of land itself cannot be understood and / or managed. Administration” in its simplest meaning connotes management (management on its own entails exercise of certain degree of control which involves implementation) and when related to land, one thinks of the existence of a carefully and properly documented policy earnestly put in place to achieve some desired objectives. An administrative framework enables qualified personnel exercise their skills. In the words Oludemi (1972, 2. 2. 1), land administration is conceived as the exercise of executive responsibility over the land resources of a nation.
In this respect the success of any land administration depends on the policy issues put in place – whether it is a workable one, a durable, dependable, or one that can easily be executed at reasonable cost, or whether it is in fact the direct opposite, or a combination of these ; or the result also may depend on the efficient performance of the professional and administrative actors as well as by the adequacy or otherwise of the various inputs or tools that are required in land management processes. “Reform means to change from worse to better; to amend; or form anew.
It also means a beneficial change; amendment; a change in regulations of parliamentary representation. As used here in Land Administration, Reform is intended to mean a complete amendment to the past inadequacies and unsatisfactory land management policies that had evolved over time. Reform does not take place except there had been lapses, disappointment and failures in past successive policy/administrative set up. Several challenges are met in order to rationalize equitable uses of national land resources in the face of dynamic socio-economic and political demands for land.
These are buried within webs of land tenure, registration of ownership titles, land fragmentation, assemblage of land for agricultural, industrial or commercial development, acquisition and disposal of land for public purposes, control of land cost, land taxation, and the operation of market forces in determining land prices. If on the final assessment and analysis of the past land administration policies, the above stated challenges are not adequately taken care of, a reform would be inevitable.
Land Administration Reform is therefore within this discourse interpreted as the beneficial amendment that may occur as a result of putting in place a method of managing national land resources to address problems of poverty in the nation and accelerate economic growth particularly in the housing sector as the nation is set for vision 20:2020. The process of determining, recording and disseminating information about tenure, value and use of land by the public should take care of certain basic elements- the juridical component, regulatory component, fiscal element, the cadastral component, and element of conflict resolution. . 0INTRODUCTION The management of land in Nigeria dates back to the period before the colonial era. The true customary land tenure systems existed and were fully in operation both in the Northern (Idris, 1976 p. 51) and Southern (Adeolu, 1978 p. 39) states of the country. The community, family, and individual patterns of managing land holdings were distinct. In other words there existed the community land, the family land and individual rights over land.
Custodians of land administrative authorities were put in the traditional institutions recognized in such highly esteemed positions of community heads, family heads and individuals respectively. Traditions, customs and beliefs are held in tenancy creation and disposition of land within which all socio – economic and political benefits accruing to ownership of land rights holds sanctity. The observed shortcoming of this land administrative structure include the gross inaccessibility of land beyond individual peasant allocations for economic development as well as the unavailability of records to substantiate individual’s holdings.
The British incursion into land administration in Lagos between 1851-1903 began to change the traditional structure that existed before 1851. The sovereignty rights over land became vested in the British throne and could therefore be offered for sale. Sale hitherto 1861-1862 not made possible under customary tenure system. Grants of land were made in different parts of Lagos Island in 1861-62 and in the Northern Nigeria in 1951. Rapid population growth with the influx of Europeans, the Saros (people from Sierra Leone), the Brazilians, and Cuban emancipados occurred in Lagos Island.
An unprecedented demand for land became noticeable. This phenomenon brought about emergence of new pattern of land values, the pattern had since continued to influence land costs in Lagos – Marina, Ikoyi, Olowogbowo, Oke Ite, Oko Faji and Isale Eko (Adeolu, 1978). In Northern Nigeria five classes of residential quarters are still recognized by their former names. These include – European quarters, the Syrian quarters, Sabon Gari, Fage in Kano, Tudun Wada in Zaria, and the Walled City (Idris, 1976). The incursion of the colonial administration into land matters caused a lot of problems, and confusion.
This attracted criticism both from the Northern and Southern Nigeria. The reform did not take any significant shape but only gave recognition to customary rights of occupancy which definitely did not reflect the true customary land tenure system in the Northern part of the country. Notwithstanding the unwelcome system of land management of the colonial era, it laid the foundation for the legal structure upon which the present national land resources management is premised. 3. 0 GENERAL OVERVIEW OF LAND ADMINISTRATION IN NIGERIA: The Present and the Past.
The past is always reflects of customs, traditions and beliefs of the ancient lives, upon which evolution of the present is credited and in itself which becomes the foundation for inevitable innovations that had and would continue to better man’s existence. It is upon this view that the successive patterns of land administration in the country from the time the colonial era is presented in this section. 3. 1 Land Administration before the Colonial Era Land in the African context is synonymous with life.
It is held within the ambit of cultural beliefs, customs and traditions to be inalienable and in as such used to control political life. Land tenure system has from history often been arranged to facilitate opportunities for exploitation of labour (Oluwi, 2001 p. 44). In some countries in Africa, land tenure is closely connected with the systems of marriage and inheritance, performance of public ceremonies, access to recreational opportunities, economic use of land as a factor of production, as well as a means of administrative control of socio – political life of the community.
Land tenure system in other cases have been organized and arranged in a way that has facilitated transformation of economic systems so that man has been able to expand labour to work the land, sub-divide, classify and apportion it. Before 1861, there exist the customary landlord, customary tenant, pledgers, pledgees, land owners and farm labourers. The predominant use of land in Nigeria is agrarian. Seven distinct concepts of land could therefore be discerned: i. The physical concept ii. The abstract concept iii. The economic concept iv. The socio-political concept . The spiritual concept vi. The legal concept vii. The proprietary right concept. Found within these concepts is the fact that there is no land in Nigeria without an owner, be it an individual person, family or community. In other words, all lands are owned in Nigeria by individual persons, supernatural persons, corporate bodies or the state. The right and power to manage these lands cut across the privilege each stakeholder in the use of land is entitled to as provided by the terrain of customs and laws prevailing in each of the circumstances of land ownership.
Individuals are entitled to parts of family land by virtue of their being members of the family. An individual enjoys rights of occupation and use over land but he is forbidden to alienate the land permanently except with the consent of other members of the family. If however, he is the first to clear the land, then the individual is entitled to absolute ownership rights in the land. In this case, he may pledge, lease, mortgage or sell property rights in the land to other parties. Lands are also owned by the supernatural persons, deities, cults, oracles, or secret societies.
Such lands are usually controlled on deity’s behalf by appropriate individuals. Lands before the British Administration in Nigeria are also held in corporate ownership system as corporations “aggregate” in forms of nuclear families, extended villages, towns and communities. Customary tenure systems within this context made provisions for allocating land use to public purposes such as for community market squares, roads to community conveniences such as source of water (streams, ponds, springs, and dams), dump sites, and shrines.
Where title to a portion of land is vested in the community, no single member of the community laid a claim to it as his. The land is not vested jointly in the individuals comprising the community in the sense that all members have a say in its management. The principle commonly asserted is that the land belongs to the head chief or oba or obi of the area that however holds it as head chief and not in his personal capacity. This is the main reason why an ba or obi or chief is vested with authority over the land, but it is on the understanding that because of his pre-eminence and the customary reverence in which he is held, he is the person best able to administer the land for the benefit of all. It is indeed part of his general administrative powers which were constituted by the political authority. The head chief or oba or obi is under an obligation to consult his senior chiefs, who together with him constitute the traditional authority.
An oba, obi or head chief holds the land for the benefit of his people, and are strictly held accountable for the management of such lands. The practice of land tenure in the whole of Yoruba is that absolute ownership of territory is never acknowledged as inherent in the sovereignty of the kings of the country but there is undoubtedly a national proprietary right vested in the king and his chiefs or council as representing the community who elect and appoint them originally, and who conjointly may exercise the right of alienation.
The chiefs are charged by the king and the community with the disposal of land within a portion of the territory in which they might exercise their powers. The chiefs have the power to dispose of land but they can not sell land. If land is given to a man and he builds on it a house, he could not be turned out if he did not do anything wrong. If he dies and left no heir, the chief could give someone else authority over the land and the land would descend in the same way subject to good conduct.
The right of beneficial use of land is subject to the obligation of service to the chief who granted it or the payment of tribute as the case may be. Management of family land is put in charge of the family head. He makes allocation of portions to members or others for use and where the property is let out to tenants; he collects rents and also pays the outgoings from the family funds. The family head is expected to exercise his powers not for his own private advantage, but for the benefit of the family.
He does not enjoy absolute powers in the management of family property. He is required to consult other members of the family, and in case of important dispositions of the property, the consent of the principal members of the family is required. A junior member of the family has however, no voice in the management of family property he can only be heard through the head of his own branch of the family. 3. 2 Land Administration During and After the Colonial Era
The successful stronghold of the British Colony in Lagos in 1861 ushered in the Missionary and Consular decades with a profound period of commerce and real property development. Land requirements and demands for various purposes increased in high proportion. Large scale speculation in land by the immigrants became noticed, and to control this unscrupulous act as well as to prevent further abuse, the use of some form of documents was authorized and became established.
The king was made to sign some of these documents by Article 3 of Lagos Blue Book CO/147/1 of March 3 1862 to give a measure of authority over transactions in land. This marked the beginning of issuance of land instruments and provision for compulsory acquisition of land in Nigeria. The government of Freeman in 1862 proceeded to dispossess the migrant natives of their lands along Marina Beach. With these changes in force, the stability of the traditional built-in checks and balances in land tenure system became disturbed and distorted.
The population of Lagos at this period was put at 30,000. It therefore became necessary for the government to initiate policies for its urban development programmes. Ordinance No 17 of October 8,1863 known as Lagos Blue Book CO/151/8 was promulgated to widen the streets of Lagos in order to improve the health of the people; lay out new streets for the construction of roads and highways; and to take and pull down for such purpose all buildings found necessary; as well as make due compensation to owners of such buildings.
Consequent upon this, government introduced publication in government gazettes of intention to acquire land for public purposes as well as invite applications from interested members of the public for Crown Grants of land. Through Ordinance No 19 of October 28, 1863 known as Lagos Blue Book CO/151/2, swamp reclamation was made effective. In February 9, 1864 Ordinance No 2 known as Lagos Blue Book for urban development was enacted to compel all persons owing or occupying land abutting the road by the river side (Marina) to repair and put in good order that portion of the road not less than sixty feet (18. 88m)immediately adjoining their land. Within this new development and rudimentary town planning activities, a particular set pattern of settlement evolved in Lagos as follows: The Saros settled west of the Europeans on the Marina at Olowogbowo; The Brazilians and Cuban emancipados settled behind the Saros and the Europeans in the Portuguese Town at Oke Ite and Oko Faji; The Natives lived behind the three; The secretariat was located at the south-east end of Marina; The educational centre was located at Faji; The Natives central business districts were sited at Offin, Ebute Ero and Idumagbo.
Transactions in land and their respective values took to this pattern of various land uses. Land grants were made in areas like Isale-gangan, Oko Awo, Aroloya, Okepopo, Epetedo, Elegbata, Alakoro, Balogun and Ebute-meta for the development of residential houses. Development was also extended to the residential areas of Obalende for African Civil Servants and Ikoyi for Europeans. At this point in the history of land possession in the country, emphasis began to shift away from mere possession of land for social reasons unto ownership purely as a stock of wealth and economic purposes.
As at 1869, prices of land in different parts of Lagos varied sharply from N50 – N300. The sale of Crown land was suspended following a trade depression in 1872 and this gave room for the Cadastral survey of Lagos which ended in 1887. The suspension of transaction in land during this period of fifteen years created a profound scarcity and land squatting became prevalent with a consequential hike in the price of land. This resulted into a confused state of conflicting claims to Crown’s lands. By Ordinance No 9 of April 9, 1863, government directed the registration of all titles to land.
A commission was for this purpose set up to verify all such claims. The commission declared null and void all grants made before 1863 and made new grants in fee simple. By 1879, the price of an acre of land along Palm Church street and Okepopo was put at N343. 15s, in 1881 along Broad street the price was put at N461, and in 1887 an acre of land in Offin was put at N1,573,at King’s Quarters, it was N968, at Ebute Ero N786. 10s, Marina N605, Agarawu N484, and Tokunbo N191. Land values in business districts of Victoria Road, Balogun Square and Ehin Igbeti as at 1903 were respectively at N605.
In the residential districts of Aroloya, land value was N363, at Massey Street and along Igbosere, it was N250 while at Catholic Mission Street, it was N242. In the swamp lands of Cow Lane and Elegbata land price was N20. The administration of Northern Nigeria was taken over from the Royal Niger Company on 1st January, 1900. Native Land Proclamation Law (No 8) of 1900 was enacted to provide the essential powers for effective management of land in the Northern Nigeria. The proclamation created a new attern of land tenure practice to run simultaneously with the existing land tenure system. The proclamation reads “no person other than a Native was to acquire directly or indirectly any interest in or right over land within the Northern Nigeria from native without the consent in writing of the High Commissioner and that any such transaction without such consent was to be void. In 1901, Land Registry Proclamation was enacted for the registration of leases granted by government and of the freehold interest purportedly acquired by aliens before 1900 take over.
Land and Native Rights Proclamations (No 13) of 1902 and (No 1) of 1906 were enacted to take care of the limitations and constraints that were yet to be removed despite the earlier proclamations. The comment on these proclamations read “the fundamental principle which guided the government was the recognition of the advantage of individual occupation rights, combined with the right of government to dispose of lands…….. but in order that government might be the sole landlord of all Aliens……. …. no non-native could acquire land without the consent of the governor”.
Simply put by this comment, the previous enactments were not enough to give effective control of land, because government was to exercise powers only on part of, and not the whole of the lands within the jurisdiction of its administration. Land was seen even right from that time as the source of wealth and its ultimate ownership had to be vested in the government. This marked a clear divergence from the principles of the Native Lands Proclamation. A Land Committee known as Northern Nigeria Lands Committee was appointed in 1906.
Land and Native Rights Proclamation (No 9) of 1910 followed. This enactment declared all lands in Northern Nigeria to be “native lands” subject to the control and disposition of the governor and no right or interest in native lands was to be valid unless held under a certificate issued by government. The enactment thus nationalized all lands of Northern Nigeria. In 1914, the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Nigeria did not in any way affect land system as established in the Lagos Protectorate and Colony and the Northern Nigeria.
Individual ownership of land holds way in the Southern Nigeria. The new central government that emerged after amalgamation re-enacted all the previous proclamations. Land and Native Rights Ordinance No 1 of 1916 remained in context just with occasional amendment throughout the period of British Administration in the North. Land Registry Proclamation was amended and re-enacted as Land Registration Ordinance, Government Notices (No 12 and 29) of 1915. This process brought about the emergence of three distinct and distinguishable categories of land – the Crown, Public, and Natives lands.
Administration of customary lands were left in the hands of local chiefs called the Native Authority wielded only with restrictive powers to administer customary land use and tenure (section 9 of Native Authority Ordinance (No 14) of 1916; Native Authority (Control of lands) Amendment Ordinance (No 73) of 1945; and the Land and Native Rights (N. A-control of settlement) Regulations (No 1) of 1950. Government administration of land was restricted to urban areas. Three different authorities emerged in the administration of land. 1.
Government was responsible for grant of subleases to aliens for commercial, industrial, residential, religious and other charitable purposes; 2. Local authority was in charge of township for granting of subleases to Africans and Nigerians whose customs differed from those of the local communities; and 3. Native authority was responsible for administration of land according to local customs and traditions. Prior to independence in 1960, Regional Governments were formed and conferred with certain powers for exclusive administration of their respective regions.
Land administration was one of these powers so conferred. Fresh constitutions were drawn up for the Federation Government and for each three Regional Government. The federal laws that affect internal administration of regions before then were replaced with new laws. Some of these laws were on land and includes- Town and Country Planning Ordinance, Cap. 155 of 1948; Land Registration Law, Cap. 58 of 1915; Land Tenure Law, Cap. 9 of 1962; and Survey Law, Cap. 121 of 1964. The Ministry of land and survey was created and saddled with the responsibility for the general administration of all lands. The State lands (State Land Act, Cap 45; Law of the Fed. of Nig. and Lagos, 1958) were held on lease basis while customary lands were held on freehold basis. Lands that were leased out by Government, Local or Native authorities were held under Statutory Rights of Occupancy. Any of the state grants must comply with the provision of three different laws viz. i) The Land Tenure Law (which replaced the Land and Native Rights Ordinance) for the lease grant and issuance of certificate in evidence of such grant;(ii) The Survey Law which shows demarcation survey and identifies the title; and (iii) Land registration Law which provides for registration of certificate. In 1967, Decree No 14 was promulgated and this conferred an autonomous status on each of the 12 states of the Federation. The legislation and policies of the defunct regions were passed unto the states.
Two pronounced systems of land practices became apparent (the customary land practice and the statutory leasehold practice) and were handed over to the state military government by the civilian administration. All titles granted or held previously were carried forward to the new states. Four different structure of land classification became established and discernible in the following forms: 1. The class of land used by the government of the state or other states or of the federation or local or township authorities for public purposes; 2.
The class of land used by grantees of right of occupancy under government or local authority leases; 3. The class of land used by individual natives under native laws and customs; 4. The physically unoccupied land held by native communities. The land tenure law gave recognition to the customary land right of the natives. Customary right of occupancy became the title given to the native community lawfully using or occupying native lands in accordance with native law and custom.
The same provision of the law invalidated title held by a non-native unless granted by government and also gave exemption to natives from seeking government consent to their land holdings. By section 50, governments are required to have regard to native laws and customs in the exercise of their land powers. Section 38 of the Local Authority Law, Cap. 77 conferred customary land administration on the local authorities. Natives are however forbidden to make any transaction with non-natives in respect of land without first obtaining consent from the government.
Customary title may be converted to statutory right of occupancy or government lease be obtained over land not customarily held for the purpose of raising bank loan. The implication of this is that, a native will loose his freehold right to government reversionary interest in the statutory title to be granted. But for legal recognition only, government will grant a certificate in evidence of customary title without any condition except the payment of administrative charges for the preparation of such certificate. According to Idris(1976,p. 8), the customary right of occupancy so granted has little legal value or no economic significance because it can be revoked for the purpose of a grant to anybody who may happen to ask the government. Provisions for payment of compensation to customary holders whose titles are revoked are only in respect of unexhausted improvements and inconveniences but not for the land itself. As far as the legal provision is concerned, it is adequate in awarding fair compensation if the customary holder can safely be aided by a competent valuer to negotiate his claims.
The defect contained in the customary title lies in the legal concept which forbids exercise of customary proprietary ownership rights over the land of which he can not claim compensation. About this time 1976 and prior to the Land Use Act of 1978, there existed a lot of confusion in the various legislations with regard to administration of land in the country. The laws for the Southern and Northern Nigeria were not the same. Major observation about land administration in the Northern states is that the natives are merely recognized as holders of parcels of land they occupied but not owners.
The government is not considered as owners of land either, but only controls and administers the occupation of land by non-natives and grantees of certificates of occupancy by government itself or its agencies. Government also recognizes the customary land-holder but did not recognize him as the owner. In the Southern states, the concept of private ownership heldsway, and ownership of land became a great economic venture. As a result, land speculation was rampant and this made land acquisition for the purpose of development very difficult for land users including government agencies.
Registration of title to land became profoundly imperative in land administration. Registration of land Ordinance No. 2 of 1894 was enacted and made mandatory for all crown grants to be registered within 30 days of issue; otherwise the grant would be void. Laws affecting registration of land instruments had at various times and applications witnessed serious metamorphosis until the Land Registration Ordinance (No. 12) of 1915 was enacted to consolidate, amend and unify all laws previously affecting registration of instruments over land throughout the country.
However, registration by law is not capable and can not cure any instrument registered of any defect nor does it or can it confer upon the document any validity which it would not otherwise have got apart from registration. The LUA is yet to consider this legal fact. The community and family still exert absolute ownership rights over individual titles. In the past, the Supreme Court had confirmed that registration of titles’ ordinances can not guarantee an absolute indefeasible title to the registered owner but rather gives strong recognition to the rights of those claiming under any valid form of customary tenure.
This could be carried out firstly by allowing them to object to any application inconsistent with their interests in the land and secondly by enabling them to deal in certain cases with registered land off the register. 3. 3 The Land Use Decree (No. 6) of 1978 (now known as the Land Use Act, Cap 101 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) As from March 29, 1978, the Land Use Decree (No. 6) became operational as a radical enactment put in place to serve a dual purpose of unifying the various land tenure systems in Nigeria as well as specifying administration of nation’s land resources.
The Act amongst other objectives was set to- (i) Abolish private or absolute ownership of land in all the Southern states; (ii)Modify existing ownership by trusteeship of all land in the Northern states; (iii) Abolish tenancy and sub-tenancy systems; (iv)Rule that all lands in each of the states of the Federation were owned by Nigerians and vest the right of administration in the governor of each state; (v) Specify that an individual could hold no more than 0. hectares of land in the urban area; (vi)Specify that groups or individuals could hold a minimum of 500 hectares for agricultural purposes and 5,000 hectares for livestock and grazing. Land Use and Allocation Committee and Land Allocation and Advisory Committee were set up respectively for Urban and Rural lands allocation. Certain deduction and observation were made from the provision of the Act by Agbola (1987): (i) Corporate groups, chiefs and families were removed from trusteeship of land and replaced with the state governor.
By this, a kind of contractual system of tenure was instituted by a certificate of occupancy which sets out terms of tenure including access, succession, duration and rents; (ii) Through the breaking of local sovereignty in land, access to land, under a system of uniform rules may be facilitated anywhere in Nigeria; (iii) Proprietary rights under the traditional tenure are now replaced by possible claims to improvement on land; (iv) The enthusiasm that welcomed the enactment of the Act was short-lived as the various omments and misgivings of some commentators of the Act became validated within a short time and many of their predictions have remained uncorrected to date. Some of the mistrust of the LUA is critically observed by Adeniyi (1987, p. 68): (i) The Act assumed that land is plentiful such that the present and future generations can get sufficient land according to their needs, and (ii) The operators of the Act have relevant and adequate information on * Location of land parcels within each state; The existing uses and land cover on each parcel; * The quality and suitability of land, and * The present owners of each parcel and their interests as may be shown by proper cadastral record. These assumptions are far from reality. It is obvious that the correct sizes of the land area of Nigeria or that of its administrative sub-divisions (the states and L. G. As) are not known. Omuojine (1999, p. 54), Omuojine (1990, p. 21), Uduehi (1982, p. 3), and Odudu (1978, p. 27) had at different times and in different fora looked at the inadequacies, inconsistencies and contradictions of the LUA with the indigenous land tenure systems, particularly the English Doctrine of Estates sections 1, 5, 6, 34, and 36 as well as the problem of inadequate compensation and implementation of the Act. According to Fabiyi (1987, p. 78), people have at most times, misconstrued the interpretation of Land Reform.
In his view, the objectives of land reform are to attain just relationships among the agricultural population, and to improve the utilization of land. By Fabiyi’s assessment, the land reform carried out in Nigeria does not involve redistribution of land. It merely changed ownership (allodial) rights on land. The consequence of this is the attendant plethora of both structural and administrative problems besetting the implementation of the LUA. Parons (1982) in Fabiyi (1987, p. 1) said that “ the political and administrative tasks of devising workable procedures for effecting the LUA entail the creation, state by state, of appropriate land records and ordinances as well as judicial and administrative procedures “. Certain striking problems of implementation became glaring from the operation of LUA: (i)- Misconception of the Act by the protagonist. The environment rather than the people who were supposed to be beneficiaries was given priority. The government failed to take into consideration several odifications that have taken place in the traditional land tenure system right from the colonial days by treating land as a free good; (ii)- The erroneous adoption of socialistic land policy in a capitalistic economy; (iii)- The Act only demonstrated a myopic focus on the nature of land ownership and was not based on careful review of land tenure pattern and its associated problems; (iv)- The wrongful, inequitable and biased assessment procedure for payment of compensation leave no doubt that no amount of compensation provided by the Act can assuage the feelings of an average Nigerian to whom land has such precious cultural, socio-political and spiritual values; (v)- Sale of land although prohibited by the Act continued unabated. Sellers simply backdate receipt in respect of each transaction. The scenario is exasperated by the oligopoly of a privileged few who in the words of Omuojine (1990), uncannily became the monopoly holders of a chosen land. Consequently, land hoarding evolved as a prerogative of government for its lack of political will to create infrastructural layout for prospective buyers (Uduehi, 1982, p. 5); (vi)- Unavailability of or inadequacy of records of areas, values and of land owners on existing land use or changes in land use over time. This has led to several spurious claims and illegal transactions on land. A parcel of land had been contracted to multiple buyers at the same time by more than a single eligible seller. (vii)- The manual storing and retrieval of information on land is not only cumbersome, it has also become very inefficient, grossly ineffective and time wasting to the requirement and challenges of today’s operations on land. Only Lagos state had attempted a computer based land use and allocation system amongst all the states in the country.
The intention of the LUA is said by many commentators to be laudable but would only require few modifications to get to perfection, particularly if those areas pointed out variously can undergo review and correction. Implementation of the Act would require a complete reform if it is to take care of the human, contextual, administrative and constitutional contradictions in the Act. 3. 4 SUGGESTED AREAS THAT REQUIRE REFORM IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LAND USE ACT Obviously, the evolution, introduction and development of various English land laws with reforms had injected profound socio-economic revolution into land title and ownership in Nigeria. Today, land has assumed its maximum economic status and position as a basic factor of production in the country. The integration of various and laws over time was to take care of uncertainties, complexities and inadequacies observed in the previous enactments but it had been ludicrously made and ended up abolished such rights and interests that formerly existed under customary land tenure system which even the LUD sought to protect. Whereas, the traditional instruction of group ownership is so strongly entrenched in the social organization of our communities that to abolish it (even assuming that such abolition would achieve its purpose in practice ) would almost destroy the fabric of society and would throw up far greater social and economic problems than it would hope to solve (Nwabueze,1972, p. 5. 4. 3).
It is very absurd to divest individual’s ownership rights in land without due and adequate compensation just in the name of state’s overriding public interest and development. The consequence of inequitable process causes the whole gamut of land laws to become unpopular, disrespected and jettisoned thus making the provisions difficult to implement. For effective and efficient administration of land in Nigeria, a structural reform is inevitable in the fabric of the existing land laws, particularly in the following areas of policy provisions and implementations: 3. 4. 1 Vesting of Power of Land Administration in the Federal Government The Federal Government is the highest level of government in the country and in an ideal situation expected to administer and manage land resources in the nation.
There existed an ugly relationship between the State and Federal governments over the use of land for overriding public purpose during the Shagari Administration (Uduehi, 1982; Udoh-Akagha, 1984). The President instead of the State Governor should be vested with power to hold land in the federation in trust for all Nigerians and such power could be delegated to the local, state and federal organs and/or machineries for expedient implementations of land policy provisions. The duties of those functionaries that would be involved at any stage of land resource administration need to be specifically spelt out to avoid clash of responsibilities and unnecessary abuses.
The former arrangement that vested interest in land on the state governor signifies idiocy that put the father on his knees begging the son for what should be in the custody of the father. This calls for a serious food for thought. Land Administration encompass policy settings, information sources, transactional processes, regulatory regimes and administrative arrangements. This transcends jurisdictional boundaries and presents a number of outcomes. Improved customer services, more efficient operation of property market, better decision-making, more and assured security of interest on traditional land and other broader range of property rights over natural resources.
If an oft stated aim of land administration reform is to address the existing complexity of land administration systems inherent in local land markets, the local government authority is in the best position to administer land within its area of jurisdiction to assure security of tenure with respect to the custom of the land. An overall national agency can coordinate the various land administration policy organs of local authorities. This will bring about even development growth to the nation and delivery of economic, social and an environmental objective which transcends administrative borders since the genesis of action commence from the grassroots.
The need for public participation is necessary in land reform process. 3. 4. 2 Enactment of Equitable and Socially Acceptable Policy Many sections of the LUA have pointed to the unfairness of the existing land enactments. Land owners have surreptitiously been stripped of their economic returns from land while the return was transferred to the few privileged individuals in the society. For instance, the revocation of right of occupancy for overriding public purpose is rather sweeping and subject to abuses. Provision for compensation is very wrong in principles and unjust. Several questions were asked by Nigerians bordering on the fundamental objectives of LUA.
Firstly, has the Act assured and preserved the rights of all Nigerians to the land of Nigeria, and has the right of all Nigerians to use and enjoy land in Nigeria and the natural fruits thereof in sufficient quantity not been jeopardized?. Secondly, has the Act enable Nigerians to provide for the sustenance of themselves and their families as assured and professed? Obviously, there exist profound shortcomings in the set objectives of the Act in fairness of purpose. In consequence, the Act however became unpopular because land owners saw it as a provision enactment to rob them of their legitimate ownership rights over land. If any land policy is to be popular and not unnecessarily radical in context, the lofty ambitions of such policy should be seen, implemented and delivered to all and sundry.
One important area of the LUA that impinges on all land owners’ rights and would require wholesome reform is the aspect of adequate compensation payment for all rights and interests divested from land owners. Land in Africa is synonymous to life and to take away ones land without alternative means simply amounts to taking away ones generational life. 3. 4. 3 Creation of a National Land Market For the purpose of ensuring equitable remuneration of all rights and interest compulsorily acquired from land owners the operation of a system of National Land Market may be necessary to ascertain adequacy of compensation. The market would operate on free entry and exit and rooted specifically on market forces.
The state may intervene as in the situation of housing market to arbitrate between two extreme levels of values in the market. The market will serve the purpose of providing datum for all socio-economic transactions in land. 3. 4. 4 Creation of National Land Records and Registration of Land Documents Bureau It is trite saying there is no land in Nigeria without an owner whether an individual, group of individuals, corporation, family, clan, or community; and even to mention that the physical and territorial size of the nation’s land resources is uncertain. It is therefore necessary and essentially imperative that national land records and registration of land documents bureau be put in place and maintained.
The land records and registration of documents bureau would be an independent body statutorily empowered to keep, store and provide at request all such information concerning interest, rights, benefits, titles, privileges, transactions and encumbrances on land to any user of land information in Nigeria. The present piecemeal registration of titles to land at owner’s voluntary will is grossly inadequate to meet the challenges of today’s utilization of land information. Many advantages stand to be benefited from this provision. Firstly, problem of multiple claims to a single parcel of land by desperate claimants at the same time would no longer be possible. Secondly, it would ease the process of deducing title to land because a wide range of reliable up to date first hand record of information would be kept and made available for inquirers.
Thirdly, the record so prepared by the bureau would also provide useful information on land use, resource endowments, taxation, grades and qualities of land as well as record of cadastre survey. To manage nation’s land resources expediently, it is pertinent to know who owns what. That is to say, it is inevitable to embark on and carry out comprehensive cadastral survey. 3. 4. 5 Creation of Cadastral Information and Records A cadastre is defined as a record of land areas, values and of owners (Finns, 1953). The record provides information that gives precise description and proper identification of different tracts of land with the various rights subsisting in them.
Cadastre could take either legal or fiscal forms. The fiscal cadastre form deals with preparation of inventory for tax assessment, land reform or redistribution, and compensation evaluation. Legal cadastre has to do with inventory of landed property for land registration and legal transactions in land. According to Adeniyi (1987, p. 71), each of these cadastre forms would require both administrative and technical frameworks to implement. Nigeria as at today has no comprehensively reliable information on the existing land use and quality of its land resources. Although, the negative cadastral system seemed to be practiced in some areas, the technical requirement adopted was poorly developed.
Cadastral system requires delineation of every parcel of land and this will entail establishment of adequate ground controls and actual property mapping. The rural areas of the country were mainly without necessary control points, especially the Southern forested areas. This portends a danger of great incidence of overlapping parcels of land. The implication of giving registration to overlapped parcel of land simply mean that the title to such land would not be guaranteed by the government under the negative cadastre system. The present voluntary (sporadic) system of land registration in the South and compulsory (sporadic) in the North is no longer adequate for efficient administration of land in Nigeria. 3. 4. Use of Computer Based LIS in Land Resources Management To manage land and its resources successfully and efficiently requires a lot of information. Computer is presently the latest device that can be used to facilitate land administration and management without much ado. Computer can be used to generate information for management, predict outcome of future occurrence and take decisions to a certain degree of precision. Aromire (1987) had blamed the inability of implementing the different land tenure systems in Nigeria on the failure of the nation to recognize the role of Land Information System (LIS) in land administration. Some of the teething problems that forestall efficient dministration of land by the LUA of 1978 could be taken care of by use of computer and these include: (i) deterioration of precision in the application of new information in the old structure of map; (ii) wearing out of paper or film and the ageing of document etc; (iii) problem of storage of materials- volumes of essential materials on land matters that requires safe keeping continue to increase day by day; (iv) base maps become inadequate within a short period of time because municipal expansion continue to be on the increase; (v) good control network is not usually available to produce survey plan. The above mentioned problems incidentally make searches and retrieval of records very difficult. These and other problems culminated into the administrative and management constraints faced by the LUA.
Experts in the following fields – administration, assessment, building inspectors, finance and revenue, fire emergency services, forestry, health services, parks and recreations, police, planning, pollution control, schools, traffic control, survey, transportation, utilities, real estate, aviation, farming, adjucation, etc have one thing or the other to do with land information and would require a better and more effective medium of information storage and retrieval than the present manual system. Olayide (1991), listed the following points as benefits derivable from Land Information System (LIS): (i) maintenance of data in physically compact form; ii) data / information can be retrieved easily and at very high speed; (iii) provision of a variety of ways of manipulating data, map overlay transformation, graphic design, etc; (iv) rapid and repeated analytical testing of conceptual models can be performed for different time periods; (v) graphic and attributes data can be manipulated simultaneously; (vi) interactive graphic designs and automated drafting tools can be applied to cartographic design and production. The structure of LIS according to Olayide (1991) is based on Systems Theory to accommodate every sphere of human information needs. With an integrated system, several sub-systems may be connected and integrated into a main system. Land Information System may for instance be set up to work with the following sub-systems: (i) Environmental Information Sub-system This will concentrate on all matters relating to environmental zones of unique physical, biological or chemical natures.
It may also be designed to take care of agricultural and forest information; (ii) Real Estate/Infrastructure Information Sub-system This will have to do with all man-made improvements carried out on land to provide such information on location, size, type of building, value of building, interest, encumbrances, right and obligation, tenancies, etc; (iii) Cadastral Information Sub-system This will provide information on records of land areas, values of land and of land owners (i. e. rights, restraints, responsibilities, etc; (iv) Socio-Economic Information Sub-system This will be designed to deal with information on human and economic geography.
Some attempts are made toward addressing the Computerisation of Land Information in the country. The Federal Lands Information Systems (FELIS) for instance emanate from Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) emanate from Ministry of Federal Capital Territory. The two are similar in principles, concepts, models and methodology except that the latter is specifically for computerization of land records in the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory (MFCT) alone while the former covers the Federal government lands in all the 36 states of the Federation. Lagos state has initiated its Computer Base Land Information System for use in the state.
The objective of the above mentioned initiatives though is laudable; the process of putting it in place gives room for great concern. A wholesome computerization exercise sponsored by the Federal government can only stand to remove bias associated with the compilation of rights and assure security of same. When records in respect of land in the same country begin to be dualised, several anomalies will affect efficient implementation of all related policy programmes. FELIS and AGIS models are not likely able to change the present situation of Land Use Act that calls for review. Cadastral survey that seeks to address poverty, removes inequality, and secure tenure rights must originate from the people from the grass root.
To serve the same National Land Market, the preparation, compilation, and use of Computer Information should be uniform. 3. 4. 7 Reflects of the Proposed Review of the Land Use Act by the Federal Government. The positions of housing in Nigeria like in other African nations constitute the main driver of land administration systems. Its efficiency is gauged by the supply to meet needs of demand i. e the available stock. In February 2009, Federal government established the National Policy on Urban Development and Housing to provide for private sector-led housing policy in the country. Federal government is to provide the enabling operating environment.
Some of the reasons for this private-led policy initiative have to do with the startling discovery of huge housing deficit indicated by low levels of the real estate sector in the nation. Mortgage credit allocated to the sector was less than 1 per cent and 0. 5 per cent of the GDP respectively. Other reasons include the paucity of long term funds, negative attitude of the banking sector to financing home ownership, archaic laws that inhibits efficient land transaction, incongruous prevailing monetary and fiscal parameters that make housing finance extremely difficult, existence of weak primary mortgage structure, poor corporate governance, and gross deficiency in technical and professional services.
Federal government initiated moves to expunge the Land Use Act from the Constitution to pave way for its amendment and also propose to establish special courts to determine terms and timing of challenge/contestation of foreclosure, initiate computerization of all land related records at all levels, persuade State governments to convert Housing Corporations to land companies, and to reorganize the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to provide mortgage insurance for affordable housing. Other steps of the Federal government include passage of foreclosure and securitization laws, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to be reorganized to finance mortgage loans through the capital market, and to put in place provision for legal protection of lenders against bankruptcy.
On August 2009, Federal government signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with private developers to build not less than one thousand (1000) housing units in different parts of the country starting Niger, Plateau, Akwa Ibom, Lagos , Ogun, and Bauchi states. The gesture is in partial fulfillment of the Federal government’s Land Tenure Changes and Home Ownership part Presidential the Seven Point Agenda. After seven months of its inauguration, the Technical Committee on Land Reform presented its Interim Report produced from the information given by “critical stakeholders” consulted- state Governors and members of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
Taking a critical look at the above attempts, there has not been any fundamental shift from the past successive programmes and expectation of review to Land Use Act goes beyond the problem of Governor’s consents. The whole tenet of Land Administration Reform is expected to address the underlying insecurity of interest arising from complexity in tenure systems. This has a profound implication in land transactions and operation of the land market. The problem in real estate credit market has its link to insecurity of tenure systems. Land grabbing is prevalent in the existing land administration system and may be difficult to overcome unless the socially undesirable excessive concentration of land and unequal advantage taken by wealthier and better informed privileged groups are curtailed. 4. BASIC CHALLENGES TO LAND ADMINISTRATION REFORMS IN NIGERIA Successful application and implementation of land administration policy reforms would generally depend on a number of factors. Some of these factors include: 4. 1 Setting up of sound administrative framework An administrative framework to manage the nation’s land resources conscientiously can not be overlooked if it is to be successful but it would have to be depoliticized, non-partisan and independent. A lot of damages had been inflicted on the social reasoning of Nigerians by the system of politics operated. Houses, families, and individuals are set against one another in the exercise of political rights. This amongst other problems had really worked evils in the implementation of LUA. 4. 2 Development of Co-operative spirit by all stakeholders
Some people would derive benefits from illegitimate avenues and would proceed to protect the illegitimate act to the detriment of genuine procedures and interests of other stakeholders. Except all hands are put on deck to correct the inadequacies of the old for entrenchment of the new order, reform may not achieve its ultimate objectives. 4. 3 Provision of Political Support. Government assistance is fundamental to successful introduction of a new policy provisions. Funding, researches, and provision of both technical and administrative machinery would be required and except government lends its full weight, reform may not be practicable. Federal government should sponsor all technical and administrative needs for even and timely completion of reform process. Every part of the nation must be seen to move at equal rate. 4. Sincerity of Purpose from personnel responsible for implementation of policies Quoting in part from extracts from the broadcast of governor of Lagos State on March 1, 1981 “there is an apparent social injustice in the scandalous distribution, allocation and use of land in such a way that few influential persons amassed wealth out of proportion to their labour on state land while several thousands of our common people have no shelter on their heads”. It is clear from this quotation that sincerity is demanded in the discharge of official responsibilities for any policy reform to be successful. Personnel responsible for implementation must therefore allow equity, fair play and social justice guide their operations. 4. 5 Acquisition of Computer facilities.
There is hardly anything one can do without computers at this age of information technology, it is therefore necessary that acquisition of computer training and facilities be encouraged by government. All users of computer information should be provided easy access to computer facilities prompt use of LIS. 4. 6 Homogenous control for Co-ordinate database and base maps Whether presently occupied or not or there is actual possession or not, government should endeavor to carry out the required surveys of all parcels of land in the country. Government should also be in actual control of these surveys and maps for homogenous use and application. 5. CONCLUSION Although, land administration and management before the colonial administration was purely primitive and uncivilized, yet the customary principles of land holding system enshrined high dignity and peaceful coexistence among the rank and file of all stakeholders in land in the society. The limited awareness and recognition of the economic status of land as a factor of production were enjoyed through such local arrangements as pawn, pledge, tenancies, tributes and other usufructuary rights. Community, family and individuals’ rights to land resources do not in any way conflict even at the strict dictates of community norms and customs.
Customary principles were easy to understand and practiced without confusion and stress. The introduction of English Doctrine of land laws in Nigeria although had contributed in no small measure in bringing the contemporary economic benefits of land within the capitalist setting into a very bright focus, it has in its wake brought with it a plethora of confusion. A lot of confusion showed itself in the meaning and interpretation of some basic terms foreign to the indigenous (customary) concept of land ever known in Africa. Omuojine (1999) in his summary posited that Nigeria should devise for itself and its citizenry a system of land tenure or policy that will ensure succession, good governance, harmony and peaceful coexistence.
Unification of land law and registration of customary lands is possible without altering the legal concept of customary land law with regard to the basic farming practices in Africa. Agricultural sector still constitute a basic sector in the economy of Nigeria and with so many uncertainties on who really holds the ownership rights to land, with so much constraints and delays in obtaining governor’s consent (as with the procedure in the LUA), credit facilities are hardly come by for large scale farming and land development projects. Large percentage of the nation’s workforce is still employed by farming. Land administration and management reform is therefore inevitable when it is viewed and thoughtfully considered in its present state of operation and disposition.
Individualization of ownership rights can work to assure social acceptability of any land policy that takes care of all and sundry. This is achievable if the good aspects of both the customary tenure system and that of English land laws can be integrated. Registration is one good area of the English land law that the customary tenure system lacks. With adequate but holistic (rather than the sporadic manner) land registration, the state can coordinate land control simply by way of intervening to guide the two extreme values of land as may be provided by the operations of the open market. Like the situation in the residential housing sector, land values can not be left entirely to the invincible hands of the market forces.
The social and welfare policy tools of the state would be applied here to curb the uneconomic excesses of land speculators. Tone of values similar to “tone of the list” used in rating valuations can be maintained in respect of transactions in land. A National Land Market as suggested in this paper will be required to provide the needed records and information that will facilitate and satisfy every segment of the land market. The National Land Market is to operate in a manner very similar to that of Stock market where all rights and interests in land can be assured, protected and guaranteed. For the above suggestions to be practicable, land administration reform is necessary. REFERENCES Adeniyi, P. O. 1987): An Appraisal of Land Use Decree with particular reference to Basic Data Requirements and Land Availability for various Development, Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos, NIESV, vol. 11, No. 2, July. Adeolu, O. (1978): Land Distribution and Land Values in Lagos: 1851-1903,Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos,NIESV, vol. 2, No. 1, July. Agbola, T. (1987): Institutional Constraints on Housing Development. The Urban Area of Nigeria: The LUD and the Building Plan Approval Process, Great Britain,Habitat Intl. , vol. 11, No. 2. Aromire (1987) in Olayide, A. (1991): Computer and Land Administration in Nigeria. Builders’ Magazine, Lagos, vol. vi, No. 2, Nov/Dec. Dosunmu, O. A. 1983): Management of Land Resources in Developing Countries, Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos, NIESV, vol. 7, No. 1, July. Fabiyi, Y. L. (1987): Land Policy for Nigeria: Alternative Proposals, Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos,NIESV, vol. 11, No. 1, Jan. Famoriyo, S. (1972): Elements in Developing Land Tenure Policies for Nigeria, The Quarterly Journal of Administration, Ibadan, vol. vii, No. 1, Oct. Finns (1953): Cadastral Surveys and Records of Rights in Land, Italy, FAO and UN. Idris, A. M. (1976): A History of Land Administration in the Northern States of Nigeria, Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos,NIESV, Jan. Lawrence, J. C. D. 1972): Land Systems and Land Reform, in Report of the Proceedings on Land Administration and the Development of African Resources, Seminar Paper Delivered at University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Nwabueze, B. O. (1972): Reform of Land Tenure: Economic Development and the Reform of the Land Law, in Report of the Proceedings on Land Administration and the Development of African Resources, Seminar Paper Delivered at University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Odudu, W. O. (1978): Critical Review of the Land Use Decree, Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos, NIESV, vol. 2, No. 1, July. Olayide, A. (1991): Computer and Land Administration in Nigeria, Builders Magazine, Lagos, vol. vi, No. 2. Oludemi, S. B. (1972): Land
Administration Functions in Developing Countries, in Report of the Proceedings on Land Administration and the Development of African Resources, Seminar Paper Delivered at University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Oluwi, J. B. (2001): Property Development and Management, Book One, Ibadan, Omoade Press. Omuojine, E. O (1990): The Land Use Decree revisited, Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos,NIESV, vol. 14, No. 2,July. Omuojine, E. O (1999): The Land Use Act and the English Doctrine of Estate, Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos,NIESV, vol. 22, No. 3, July. Udoh-Akagha, S. (1985): “Land Use Decree – Six Years After”, Journal of The Estate Surveyor and Valuer, Lagos,NIESV, vol. 9, No. 1, Jan. Uduehi, G. O. 1982): The Effect of the LUD (now Act) on Property Development in Nigeria, Journal of The Es