In a candid interview with news correspondents, Prof. Peter Adeniyi, Chairman of the Presidential Technical Committee on Lands Reforms and former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, sheds light on the state of land reform policies in Nigeria. The interview begins with Prof. Adeniyi clarifying the committee’s mandate since its inauguration in 2009. He highlights the eight-point agenda given by late President Musa Yar’adua, emphasizing the need to determine land ownership, individual possession rights, demarcate boundaries, and establish conflict resolution mechanisms.
Additionally, the committee was tasked with recommending the establishment of a National Depository for land title holdings, a mechanism for land valuation, and other measures to ensure effective land administration. As the conversation unfolds, Prof. Adeniyi takes us through the committee’s activities over the past 14 years, clarifying that practical work was carried out within the initial seven to eight years. He reflects on the findings that highlight significant challenges in Nigeria’s land administration. One major discovery is the lack of knowledge regarding property ownership and interests.
Difficulties in accessing records hinders land-buying ease.
Despite initiating land registration in 1883, less than five percent of Nigeria’s land is properly documented. Prof. Adeniyi reveals the difficulties in accessing land records, hindering the ease of buying land and leading to land speculation. Addressing the Land Use Act (LS 2004), Prof. Adeniyi points out that the Council of State, tasked with making regulations for effective implementation, has failed to do so since 1978. He raises concerns about the absence of a national institution to advise the Council of State, leading to inconsistencies in land administration between states and local governments.
The interview delves into the inadequacy of data for land valuation, emphasizing the critical need for accurate information. Prof. Adeniyi concludes by highlighting the absence of essential infrastructure such as geomatic stations, land use and township maps, and functional land registries. In response to these challenges, the committee prioritized systematic land titling and registration. Prof. Adeniyi reveals the development of a bill for the establishment of a National Land Commission, which aims to address the shortcomings of the current system. However, he laments that after 14 years, the issues persist, with about 95 percent of lands still undocumented.
Corruption also significantly hinders land reforms in Nigeria.
It explores the challenges impeding the implementation of proposed solutions. Prof. Adeniyi identifies the lack of a shared vision among political and professional leaders as a significant hindrance. He emphasizes the importance of involving key stakeholders in decision-making to ensure effective collaboration. The discussion takes a critical turn as Prof. Adeniyi addresses the uninterested and uncommitted nature of public servants. He criticizes their reluctance to embrace new ideas and highlights the need for a shift in mindset to achieve meaningful progress.
Prof. Adeniyi does not shy away from addressing corruption as a significant obstacle to land reform. He points out that corruption, particularly led by the elites, contributes to speculation and undermines efforts to modernize land administration. The fear of job loss and opposition from those benefiting from the existing system further complicates the reform process. Prof. Adeniyi calls for a shared vision among political leaders, committed public servants, and a concerted effort to tackle corruption. He advocates for the establishment of a National Land Commission and stresses the importance of public participation to bring about the much-needed land reform in Nigeria.
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Recognizing the intricate hurdles hindering effective land administration, Prof. Adeniyi’s impassioned advocacy for reform becomes a rallying call for change. In a nation where land ownership remains enigmatic, the urgency he underscores resonates as a beacon for revitalizing the dormant potential of Nigeria’s vast land resources. The need for a shared vision among leaders, commitment from public servants, and the curbing of corruption are not mere suggestions but imperatives to propel the nation towards a transparent, efficient, and equitable land administration system. Prof. Adeniyi’s unwavering commitment to this cause stands as a testament to the transformative power that well-executed land reforms can unleash on Nigeria’s socioeconomic landscape.