Abuja – November 2, 2023 – Viewpoint Housing News.
We call on the President, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his executive arm, and the new National Assembly legislators to seriously consider the urgent review and possible amendment of the Land Use Act that is over 40 years old and no longer useful to our present day economy. This will open up the real estate market to an endless possibilities of the huge capital of internally generated revenue that have been locked up in the space for so many years because of the provisions as decreed and enacted in the Land Use Act.The truth is that our country is not getting the right value from her real estate sector and until our government takes deliberate steps in the right direction nothing will change.It is estimated that Nigeria holds between $ 300 billion to $ 900 billion of dormant capital in residential and agricultural land, while the high-value real estate market segment holds as much as $ 750 billion of value that can be unlocked.Let us understand that South Africa has a population today of 58.6 million and their GDP per Capital income is 5,235.79 dollars while the Nigerian population is 208 million and our GDP per Capital today is 2,229.85 dollars.In this paper, we will look at the various ways in which this capital can be unlocked or tapped into and channeled into the Nigerian economy in order to boost GDP, reduce unemployment and achieve economic growth.Capital is one of the most essential components of economic advancement and should be prioritized when developing solutions for our nation’s economy. We need sufficient capital to provide the right environment for economic growth. It is a well-known fact that capital is scarce in countries with a large stock of dormant assets – in this case, land. Owners of these assets are unable to leverage these assets for economic gain – often due to a lack of proper or “bankable” documentation. With a population of over 208 million in the country and 36 million households, it is estimated that approximately 95% of household dwellings in Nigeria do not have proper titles. This makes it difficult to validate ownership or for the landowners to use their land to access capital.The Land Use Act of 1978 is a fundamental piece of legislation governing land ownership and property registration in Nigeria. This act, which was introduced to oversee the formalization of land ownership, has not been effective in establishing a uniform land tenure system that governs land ownership in the country. Most citizens do not comply with the legal provisions of the act or find the process of formalization too cumbersome. Proof of land or property ownership is how one claims the right to land or property.It is the protection and degree of control a person has over a parcel of land. This is just a way to pinpoint each person’s land and a testament by the State that the said person has a property right in the land. A claim to ownership of land in Nigeria may be established in any of the five main ways laid down by the Supreme Court. By traditional evidence in the form of traditional history. By production of documents of title. By proving the act of ownership and possession over a sufficient length of time and are numerous and positive enough as to warrant the inference that the person is the true owner. By proving acts of long possession and enjoyment of land; and By proof of possession of connected and adjacent land, in circumstances which make it probable that the owner of such adjacent or connected land is probably the owner of the land in dispute.
Overview of the Land Use Act and Property Registration2.1 The Land Use Act of 1978The Land Use Act consolidated the ownership and control of land in Nigeria under the state governments. It provides a legal framework for land administration, including property registration, land allocation, and compensation for land acquisition.2.2 Property Registration Process under the Land Use ActThe Act established a system of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) as proof of title, which must be obtained to establish ownership rights over land. The property registration process involves several steps, including application, verification, surveying, valuation, and issuance of the C of O.Challenges in Property Registration under the Land Use Act3.1 Lengthy and Complex ProcessesThe property registration process under the Land Use Act is often time-consuming and bureaucratic, leading to delays and inefficiencies.3.2 Inadequate InfrastructureThe lack of reliable land records systems, digital platforms, and modern technology hampers the efficiency of property registration.3.3 Corruption and Fraudulent PracticesInstances of corruption and fraudulent activities within the property registration process undermine its effectiveness and erode public trust.
Economic Recovery through Property Registration4.1 Stimulating InvestmentEfficient property registration processes, backed by a secure legal framework, attract domestic and foreign investments, driving economic growth and job creation.The FCT for example, has taken steps to remedy this with the introduction of the AACSTRIS PROJECT but more can still be done to reduce the bottlenecks in land registration nationwide. The only way out is for the over 40 years old Land Use Act to be reviewed to meet up with the present-day reality.Agencies can be created with the sole mandate of registering all property nationwide and creating an accessible database of property titles through technology. The benefits of this would be immense.1. Every house or landowner would have been empowered with the power to easily convert their land or property to money2. Every land or house owner will be legally empowered to access capital via formal financial routes 3. There will be more money in circulation and businesses would thrive, thereby reducing the unemployment and poverty rates.4. Government would generate a lot of money in trillions through annual tenement rates and property tax and this could provide more revenue than crude oil in the long run.4.2 Unlocking Access to CreditProperty registration enables individuals and businesses to use their land assets as collateral, facilitating access to credit for entrepreneurial activities, and thereby stimulating economic recovery.There are various types of land documents including Certificate of Occupancy, Deed of Assignment, Governor’s Consent, Survey Plan, Excision Document, Grant of Probate & Letter of Administration. Of all the above documents, the only one currently accepted by the Banks as collateral is the C of O – however, the process of getting this is very cumbersome.When every household has a duly registered property then nearly everyone who truly needs capital for investment or business expansion will be able to access the same using their property as collateral.
Youth Employment and Property Registration5.1 Job Creation Streamlining property registration processes creates employment opportunities in areas such as surveying, valuation, legal services, and technology support, benefiting the youth population.5.2 Entrepreneurship and Innovation A vibrant property registration sector encourages youth entrepreneurship and innovation through the development of new service models and technology-driven solutions.
Infrastructural Development and Property Registration6.1 Effective Urban Planning Accurate property registration data support urban planning and infrastructure development, ensuring efficient land use management and the provision of essential amenities.6.2 Housing and Real Estate Development Property registration promotes affordable housing initiatives by providing a clear framework for land acquisition, reducing conflicts, and attracting investments in the housing and real estate sector.
Recommendations for Leveraging Property Registration to Stimulate Economic Recovery, Youth Employment, and Infrastructural Development. 7.1 Simplification and Automation Simplify property registration procedures, digitize records, and introduce online platforms to streamline processes, reduce bureaucracy, and enhance transparency.7.2 Capacity Building Invest in training programs and certifications for professionals involved in property registration to improve their skills and knowledge.7.3 Public Awareness and Education Launch comprehensive public awareness campaigns to educate citizens about the benefits of property registration, the steps involved, and the importance of complying with the Land Use Act.7.4 Strengthening Anti-Corruption Measures Enforce strict penalties for corruption and fraudulent practices in property registration, while promoting a culture of integrity and transparency.7.5 Collaboration and Stakeholder Engagement Promote collaboration among relevant stakeholders, including government agencies, professionals, and private sector entities, to create a unified and efficient property registration system.
By addressing the challenges associated with property registration under the Land Use Act and implementing the recommended measures, Nigeria can harness the full potential of property registration to drive economic recovery, empower the youth, and facilitate infrastructural development, leading to sustainable and inclusive growth.