By Yinka Kolawole
President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Mr. Emeka Eleh, has revealed that only five percent of land in Nigeria is currently covered by title while 95 percent remains dead asset. This means that about 334067 square metres out of the country’s total land area of 351649 square metres.
Eleh, while unveiling the agenda for the Institution under his newly inaugurated administration, noted that the implication is that only 5 percent of land in the country can be used to create wealth by owners while the rest are not usable because of lack of title.
He attributed lack of title to land to high level of poverty among Nigerians, and vowed to lead the advocacy for land reform in the country during his tenure. “With nearly 112 million people in the poverty bracket according to official government statistics, I believe that a reform of the land tenure system that will grant land owners title to their land will enable them unleash the hidden capital in the land, which they own and thus enable them raise money for their business.”
The NIESV president noted that no nation can develop without reforming its land tenure system to ensure that land owners have the legal and proprietary title to their land. He urged the government to take steps that will ensure that land in the country is registered and covered by title to encourage investment and wealth creation among land owners.
According to him, land tenure system should be reformed to attract economic value, pointing out that land is a major source of income for governments in developed countries. “If all land has title, it will be a major source of income for government in terms of ground rent and tenement rate collection. As it is now, it seems government is short-changing itself,” he said.
Stakeholders in the nation’s built sector have been clamouring for land reform in Nigeria to unveil the hidden potential in the use of land, attributing lack of effective mortgage financing in the country to the poor state of land administration. It would be recalled that late President Umar Yar ‘Adua commenced the process of land reform in the country in 2007, but could not conclude the process before his eventual demise.
Meanwhile, Eleh also announced plans by NIESV to create a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to assist members in marketing properties in their portfolio and also ensure the standardisation of estate agency practice in the country. “More often than not, our members are referred to as just estate agents, instead of estate surveyors and valuers. Whilst estate agency is part of what we are trained to do, it is only but a minor part of our overall role. Incidentally, the activities of unqualified persons who practice estate agency tend to rub off negatively on the image of our profession.”
He said NIESV will establish a body to control agency practice before the end of the year. “We believe that such a body will go a long way in regulating the practice of estate agency and bringing its practitioners under control.