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Decentralise land administration, experts tell govt

For Lagos residents and Nigerians at large to get more benefits from owning land, the government needs to decentralise land administration and management, experts have said.

The experts noted that the level of poverty in the country would continue to grow if proper land management that could promote investment and wealth for landowners was not put in place.

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They posited that no country had progressed by leaving land administration solely to the governor of a state.

According to an emeritus Professor and Chairman, Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform, Peter Adeniyi, decentralisation has recently been recognised as one of the means through which development opportunities can reach majority of the population both in the urban and rural areas.

He explained that it entailed the transfer of specific operational functions of land administration from central/state to the local/community level.

“A decentralised system of land administration creates more opportunities to the local people in the decision-making process, promotes peoples’ participation and encourages sustainability. It also offers more efficient and effective administration and management,” he said.

Adeniyi and other experts, spoke at the International Conference on Land and Development in Lagos, which held at the University of Lagos.

He said the most desirable decentralisation of land administration in Lagos State should be the transfer or delegation of power of functions such as land registration, land transaction, dispute resolution and other functions as prescribed by the Land Use Act to the Local Government Areas.

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“Doing this will significantly improve tenure security and land rights, conflict resolution, opportunity for institutionalised credit facilities and job creation. Dealing with land grabbing and growth of informalities will be enhanced,” he added.

He, however, stated that to accomplish the reform in land administration, there would be a need for a change of mindset by the political leadership in the state as well as a re-consideration of treating every piece of land in Lagos state as urban.

Adeniyi said, “In essence, a robust legislation is required to specify the roles and responsibilities of government at different levels and coordination between them.

“Owing to the long neglect of the Local Government Areas in the area of land administration, there is the need for human capacity building and resource mobilisation to enable them to successfully carry out the responsibility entrusted to them by this suggested but imperative reform.”

A past Surveyor-General, Prof Peter Nwilo, stated that data remained a huge challenge for land administration in the country, adding that almost all data available were not harmonised.

He said the Lagos State Government had achieved success in mapping, which had increased its income generation, and urged other states to do the same.

The General Manager, Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency, Mr Lateef Solebo, noted that the state government, in line with its mega city status, had developed programmes to tackle land use issues such as identifying slums and developing investment policies for private investors in such areas.

“We have to begin to build vertical cities, we cannot sprawl anymore, as this depletes infrastructure,” he said.

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The Founding Director, Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, conveners of the conference, Prof Gbenga Nubi, said the Lagos State Government as well as other state governments needed to get land and development issues right to eradicate poverty.

The Vice-Chancellor, UNILAG, Prof Olutoyin Ogundipe, who was represented by the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof Iyiola Oni, said planning, management and use of land were critical issues that government at all levels should address.

Source:  Maureen Ihua Maduenyi

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