Review Land Use Act, housing experts tell National Assembly

Seenate President Ahmed Lawan
Senate President Ahmed Lawan

The Land Use Act has, over the years, generated controversy among housing experts and Nigerians who are owners of lands.Some housing experts have drafted out priority areas for the ninth assembly to focus on – in the housing sector.

Top on the list is the review of the Land Use Act. The experts, who are members of Housing Development Advocacy Group, also called for a review of national housing fund and legislations to strengthen the housing sector, among others.

The Land Use Act has, over the years, generated controversy among housing experts and Nigerians who are owners of lands. A key provision of the law is that ownership of land is vested in the states.

It therefore gives the government permission to seize a piece of land or property without any form of compensation if the claimer does not have a Certificate of Occupancy.

Although the Act has its own merits, many land and housing experts have called for a review or amendment of the Act.

In a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the group urged the ninth assembly, especially the Senate, to pursue legislations needed to develop Nigeria’s housing sector.

The president of the group, Festus Adebayo, explained that with good legislation, some of the perennial problems – notably land use act – bedevilling the sector will be ameliorated and lead to the reduction of the country’s housing deficit.

“The single most important factor in Nigeria’s housing crisis is the gross misapplication of the Land Use Act, 1978, and the resultant denial of access to land to the poor.

“Although the Land Use Act preserves the right of the holder of a right of occupancy to the sole and absolute possession of all improvements on the land, it provides that such improvements may be transferred, assigned or mortgaged only subject to the prior consent of the governor.

“Another major feature of the land use policy constraining housing development and optimal economic use of land resources is the mandatory requirement of the governor’s consent to land transactions such as sale, assignment, transfer or mortgage of land in urban areas,” he said.

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Mr Adebayo also mentioned the National Housing Fund (Establishment) Bill 2018 which was passed by the eight Senate and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, but was declined.

“There is also a public sentiment against the bill in line with that of the president, and also for the fact that there was no wide-sector consultation in the formulation of the bill. Legislative interventions that can reduce the cost of building materials and also encourage local production are very critical at this time.

“The introduction of schemes like the Family Homes Funds, which is intended to deliver about 500, 000 homes in 2023, has been commended by a lot of stakeholders.

“Other measures that can also increase affordability include social capital. The ninth National Assembly should enable legislations that will make it easier for cooperatives to pull their resources together and contribute to national funds on housing,” he said.

Mr Adebayo had, in the past, accused the Buhari-led administration of poor performance in the housing sector. He had also admonished the federal government to invest unclaimed dividends in the Pension Fund into the housing sector.

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