The Federal Government has implored officials in charge of lands in State Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) to automate their processes and adopt new modalities for efficient, effective land administration and management in the country.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 27th Conference of Directors of Lands in the Federal and State MDAs in Abuja, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said that land titling is an essential part of government process that must be automated not only at the Federal level but also in all the states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.
Fashola expressed the need to issue titles within 24 hours, in view of the erroneous and misleading interpretation of the Act and conflicting roles in administering land by various tiers of government.
While calling on the stakeholders to critically analyse the powers of each level of governments in respect of land acquisition, allocation and landed property, he said the forum is intended to achieve harmony and engender a mutual intergovernmental relationship on land management and administration.
“As professionals who are charged with the responsibility of managing the nation’s most vital and coveted assets, the Conference will not only enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the job, but also will afford them the opportunity to look at the issues of unplanned development of land resources,” the minister said.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Bashir Alkali, also urged officials to dwell on areas that will eliminate conflict areas among operators across all levels of government.
He advised them to critically examine the land administration/management issues under the Land Use Act with a view to developing solutions aimed at eliminating areas of conflict.
The Director and Head of Department, Lands and Housing Development Department in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Godwin Ityoachimin, said that the conference would address the limitations of each tier of government and establish boundaries in relation to the Land Use Act.
Ityoachimin, an estate surveyor and valuer, said the Federal Government had consistently been faced with challenges relating to the other tiers of government on issues bothering on land administration, acquisition and compensation because the state government believes that the land in the state is owned by it. He noted that state governors move into the properties owned by the Federal Government and pull them down without due process.
He stated that the impression of governors owning the land was a misconception as well as misleading; pointing out that the correct intent of the Land Use Act is that governors are trustees under the Act and not owners.
According to him, Section 49(2) of the Land Use Act requirement is that the use of land by the federal government is dictated by public interest, adding that the Federal Government as a corporate entity has the right to own and manage properties.
The Director said if the limitations of each tier, from the Federal to the Local Governments are clearly identified and stated, the challenges the Federal Government goes through would be eliminated.
He said: “Our thinking is that we shall be able to deliberate on these limitations and work within the time frame of the limit permitted by the Law, a lot of challenges governments go through particularly at the state level will be eliminated. It will enhance the process and relationship among the tiers of government, and the ultimate delivery of the impact and dividends of democracy.”
Also, the Director, Legal Services, Benjamin O.Okolo regretted that several projects planned by the federal government were stalled due to the difficulty in acquiring land in key urban centres, where price was often prohibitive and compensation claimed and paid by government was higher than the opportunity cost.
“In the absence of a specific section in the Act that provides for the powers of the Federal Government with respect to land in states,it has been suggested that state governors are the landlords on whom the Federal must rely on to access land in any state for projects across the country,”Okolo added.
Delivering a paper on ‘The Land Use Act and Land Management: Imperatives for the Emerging Economy of Nigeria,” Prof. Terzungwe Dungeri, said the place of land cannot be taken over by technology, reviewing it is principally directed at states and local governments’ land management functions.
According to Dungeri, the implications on land use and administration and development are diverse and multi-layered, saying, we need more housing, sustained investment in infrastructure like roads, ports, markets, education, and other social facilities, while agriculture must be boosted.
The Chairman Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria, Gersh Henshaw, urged government to establish the Land Use and Allocation Committee in the states and the Land Advisory Allocation Committees at the Local Governments level.
He said findings and resolutions by the committee would guide the state governors in making decisions on land administration, acquisition and compensation.