April 17, 2011

‘Uncoordinated land policies bane of housing delivery’

Housing delivery in Nigeria has been greatly hampered by the uncoordinated policies of various tiers of governments on land management and administration.

Promoters of the annual Lagos Housing Fair noted that the issue of access to land had remained intractable  since 1978 when the draconian Land Use Act was promulgated, which informed the theme: “Access to Land and Housing Delivery”, for this year’s edition of the event.

Mr. Moses Ogunleye, Chairman, Lagos Housing Fair Committee, said that the committee decided on the theme to ensure that the searchlight is continuously beamed on critical issues affecting Nigeria’s housing sector.

According to him, the first step required in resolving the housing fiasco in the country is to focus on accessibility to land, in vew of the Land Use Act, adding that Nigerians are yet to begin to reap the benefits since the promulgation of the decree. “You will agree with me that the issue of land is core to housing provision. Indeed, the first attempt at resolving the housing debacle in Nigeria should be to focus on how land will be properly accessed and utilised to facilitate housing provision.

“Besides, the theme is to allow us use this year’s forum to re-examine the hindrances to access to land by individuals, corporate bodies and governments – federal, state and local,” Ogunleye said.

He called for the amendment of the Land Use Act, noting: “From our understanding of the sector, the hindrances to access to land have come from among others; un-coordinated policies at the Federal and State levels, as well as weak or poor land management system. In addition, the operationalisation of the Land Use Act of 1978 has.”

He regretted that rather than use the law to facilitate access to land, most state governments have, through bureaucratic bottlenecks and the need for enhanced revenue, denied many Nigerians including investors, title to their lands. He noted that many lands or property have had their values locked up due to the red-tapism involved in procuring Certificate of Occupancy (Cof O) and Governor’s Consent.

He asserted that the Act in its context requires major review to make it a realistic law rather than a retrogressive one. According to him, many of the sections are not only autocratic but also unprogressive.

For instance, he noted, the Act classified lands into urban and rural lands, when in actual fact, there is no clear cut classification in many instances especially in a state such as Lagos, where there is rapid urbanisation while local governments are also expected to set land use and allocation committees just such as the states.

Ogunleye also frowned at the cost of obtaining titles which he said is prohibitive in addition to the high cost of fund for housing production, as well as the negative activities of land speculators.