By Yinka Kolawole
The Federal Government has reaffirmedÂ Â its commitment to the effectiveÂ implementation of a land reform scheme as proposed by the Yar-Adua administration within a reasonable time frame.
Minister of State for Housing, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, who restated government=s commitment on a visit to the Federal Land Information System (FELIS), noted that the intention to embark on land reform is to make land easily accessible to Nigerians.
Ekpiwhre asserted that standardization in land registry is inevitable, emphasizing the importance of the registry in obtaining information on land allocation and geographical information system.
AWhen we talk of land reform, this is the first step in capturing all Federal Government Lands in all the States of the federation, because there is no doubt at all that land is a very, very important resource when you talk about national development.
ADevelopment entails physical development, every aspect of physical development starts first with lands, be it railways, be it airport, health centers, schools, name it, they are not built in the sky, they are all built on land. This is a very important resource and that goes to give credence to the need to have proper title documents to give credibility to whatever we are doing. It is also good for the Federal Government to have valuable information of available lands for development.@
Describing the analogue system of land registration as archaic, Ekpiwhre stressed the need for both
the Federal and State governments to embrace a computerised system, as it would not only to provide revenue but also the much needed computerised database.
In his address to the Minister, the Coordinator of FELIS, Rev. Canon A. Ukaejiofor, observed that land is dynamic and so are challenges of its management due to bundles of right that exist over every piece of land which has raised wide ranging implications for efficiency, functionality and flexibility in the land administration.
Ukaejiofor noted that the system has made it possible for the Federal Government to know whether annual grant rent are being paid by land owners or not, adding that the issue of dispute on boundary is also eliminated.
He noted that FELIS is responsible for the computerisation, modernisation of land administration and registration as well as networking with states adding that the major challenge was to transform the existing system in house from analogue to digital.
Giving an overview of land in the country, Ukaejiofor said that Nigeria has a land area of 924,768 square kilometres, and over 80 per cent of the nationâ€™s land area fall within rural areas while a small percentage of the 20 percent urban land is mapped adding that a smaller percentage of mapped areas have title documents and registration.
Ukaejiofor observed that the subsisting analogue systems is slow, inefficient and cumbersome and has made title documents vulnerable to loss and mutilation. He stressed that an average entrepreneur in Nigeria has to complete 21 pen and paper procedures, including obtaining the state governor=s consent which make the process last for about 274 days and requires official fees amounting to more than 27 per cent of the property value.
He emphasized that proposed land reform would provide central and multi-user computerized data base for federal land records, improve e-issuance of registration of title documents to land holders, make search and retrieval of land record information easier and establish the National Land Depository with a network to all states.