…As 70% of Lagos residents live in slums
By Elizabeth Uwandu
Against the backdrop of the belief that the management or mismanagement of land according to pundits serve as benchmark to the level of prosperity of a nation, the Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development in conjunction with Research and Innovation Office, University of Lagos recently hosted a two day conference tagged “International Conference on Land and Development in Lagos” with a view to sensitising stakeholders on how to manage land resource particularly in Lagos which land mass is quite small.
Giving the reason for the conference, Prof. Rufus Akinyele, who was the convener of the two-day event which had stakeholders from within and outside the academia, said that the lingering issue of Omo’niles, access to land and disposition, land planning and management informed the hosting of the conference. Keynote speakers such as Prof. Peter Nwilo and Prof. Peter Adeniyi took turns to address the gathering.
According to Prof. Akinyele, “You find out that land is the basis of development and civilization. So, the focus of this conference is to deliberate on the problems of land.. Well, we have had problems in relation to land. If you are in Lagos, you will know about the Omo’Niles, that have been a daily occurrence. We have had problem on access to land . How do you manage land ? How do you dispose of land? Land is something that is not limited to any segment of academia.
“That is why it is a conference that has brought together critical stakeholders from within and outside the university. People from dredging, estate management, housing and banks etc are here to examine the difference aspects of these problems in order to be able to chart the way forward. In addition, it is my belief that the ideas to be generated here will be able to help the government to develop the appropriate policies to enable everyone live peacefully in Lagos”,the convener noted.
Speaking on ‘ Geometric infrastructure for the provision of appropriate cadastral survey works in Nigeria, Prof. Nwilo, a renowned surveyor, explained that Nigeria was unable to make meaningfully progress due to her inability to have a proper documentation of all the lands in the country.
Comparing Nigeria to Rwanda that has made remarkable success because of having virtually all its lands registered, Prof Nwilo said that, “Not up to three percent of Nigeria’s land is registered”.
He added that “Unless Nigeria has all the details of it’s land, meaningful progress in terms of access to land, planning and management of land can not be made. When this happens, the level of resources control and the well being of the citizens can be put into consideration”, he said.
Corroborating Nwilo’s assertion, Prof. Adeniyi, Chairman, Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform and Management, noted that despite Lagos being the smallest state in land mass, has the potential of being one of the greatest states due to its strategic position of having the busiest port in Africa, and having to accommodate over 6,000 people yearly was still be-deviled with challenges of power supply, unemployment, bad roads and growth of slums among other factors due to inability to have accurate record of her lands.
Prof. Adeniyi added that “Since 1863 Land Use Act was introduced in Lagos, less than three percent of lands has been registered. This implies that over 97 percent of lands in the state are unregistered. The question is, how do you develop without land registration?
“Talking of Nigeria, the federal government does not know all the land it has in all the states. This trend and many others have to be stopped as land is the base of other developments”, the keynote speaker said.
For the Managing Director, Mr. Lateef Aholebo, Lagos State Urban Renewal Authority , LASURA, .he said although land remains the oil well of Lagos, it is pathetic that over 70 percent of Lagosians live in slums.
He however, stated that his office is poised to identify all slums he described as informal settlements, with stakeholders especially private investors to realise the dream of Lagos being among the mega cities of the world.
“Land is the oil well of Lagos. However, over 70 percent of Lagos areas are informal settlements. The people there are our responsibility. So, we are working to identify the informal settlements and come out with plans to improve the living conditions of the people there.
“This will be through investments and partnership with stakeholders especially the private investors with our agency as the way forward”, LASURA boss stated.
Also speaking earlier on the goals of the conference, Pro Gbenga Nubi and Prof. Wellington Oyibo , Chairman and Associate Chairman , Local Organising Committee of the event sponsored by Dredging International Services, Nigeria and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, said the conference was to interrogate and see how far the issue of planning of land in Lagos has fared.
According to Prof. Nubi, “The ability to manage land and the resources will determine the level of prosperity or poverty of a nation”, Nubi reasoned.