Land Use Act harmful to housing sector, says Ex-Minister

Nduese Essien

A former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Nduese Essien, has called for an urgent abrogation of the Land Use Act to free land for housing development in the country.

Mr. Essien, who said this on Wednesday in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, noted that the policy was detrimental to the nation’s housing sector.

A delegate to the 2014 National Conference, Mr. Essien said he regretted the inability of Conference to agree on the abrogation of the controversial law which was brought into the Constitution by Olusegun Obasanjo, when he was military head of state.

He noted that the law has served more as a stumbling block to the acquisition of land by housing investors and industrialists while encouraging land speculation, which it was actually meant to eliminate.

The former minister said for the housing deficit in Nigeria to be reduced, the Federal Government must begin to make land readily available to local and foreign housing investors, who have the resources to build houses in the country.

Besides, Mr. Essien asked the Federal Government to harness the huge pension funds tied down by certain government agencies for massive housing development, saying the housing sector has the potential to grow the nation’s economy.

“The land use Act should be expunged from the constitution while land should be returned to the original owners so that whoever wants to make use of land for any development project should go to the owners directly,” he said.

“This idea of bringing all the lands under the control of the government has not paid off. It has not served any objectives that it was meant to serve.

“The land use act was intended to make land available to those who needed it for development but we have seen that available land is only made available to those who are close to the corridors of power.

“It is not available to farmers and industrialists because the process of getting land titles is a very tedious one,” Mr. Essien lamented.

Speaking on the just-concluded National Conference, the former member of the House of Representatives said delegates have reinforced the potential for Nigerians to live together and solve their problems despite areas of disagreements.

He said that the ability of the members to agree on a wide range of thorny national issues was an indication that Nigerians were more than assumed by the outside world.

He argued that the adoption of a wide range of recommendations by the Conference would also go a long way in resolving intractable national challenges and give Nigerians a new lease of life.

Mr. Essien said, “The outcome of the national conference clearly shows that Nigeria has the potential to remain strong, united and developed because all the cries and tumours that had erupted at different times before the conference all collapsed in one day when we agreed that the status quo should remain and we continued.

“And you also find out that the recommendations of the Conference covered a lot of areas that if implemented would bring about a prosperous nation and make Nigeria the envy of other nations.”

Mr. Essien explained that one of the decisions taken by the conference would make it possible for members of the National Assembly to be appointed into the Federal Executive Council.

If implemented, he said the policy will create a healthy interface and make ministers responsible to both the executive and the legislative arms of the government so as to reduce the occasional friction in the system.


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