“According to Lagos’ Land Use act, virtually all land belongs to the government”
This is a response piece to an article written by Wura Ladipo-Ajayi. In the article Ladipo-Ajayi asks who is benefiting from the regularisation of land titles in Lagos.
By Olamide Udoma
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The Nigerian Land Use Act (1978) encourage land disputes, forced evictions and insecurity of tenure, which hinders productivity within the housing sector. It states that the Governor of the State owns all land in that State and therefore is responsible for the allocation of land. The Act does allow individuals to have Right of Occupancy, however the procedure to acquire the certificate is quite cumbersome and has led to three distinct markets; a market for direct state allocation, a market for pre-1978 land rights, which have not been converted, and an informal market where no statuary of occupancy exists.
As Ladipo-Ajayi rightly explains though further policies have been put in place to ensure land and tenancy security, due to implementation woes and mismanagement, these three markets still remain as separate as ever.
The informal market is where low to no income dwellers sit and one of their plights is land ownership. Having worked in different low-income communities in the past four years, including Makoko, I know that most of the residents believe that getting their hands on a Certificate of Occupancy would be their saving glory. At present they live in constant fear that the place they call home might not be there tomorrow because tomorrow they might be forcefully removed.
The two pronged approach, tackling slum clearance and land rights both from the bottom-up and top down simultaneously, as Ladipo-Ajayi mentions should lead to affective change. However, this is stifled due to the 1978 Land Use Act. Though it has been contested and a bill for amendment was presented in the House of Assembly, it was not passed. State Governments in Nigeria understand the power this Act gives them and unless a radical President or group of people within the House of Assembly come in to power nothing will change. Therefore it is left to the man on the street, or maybe a group of people, to purchase a plot of land from the government or a private owner, which is non-viable for low-income earners due to the lack of financial assistance and antipathy of the Lagos State Government.
Knowing this, Lagos HOMS (Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme) was introduced this year by the Lagos State Government with an aim to support first time buyers in the state to purchase decent homes through accessible mortgage finance. Even though the scheme is aimed to attract low-income earners there are various conditions that exclude the majority of the poor.
Read Wura Ladipo-Ajayi’s article on Urb.im.
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