Ogun: Bottlenecks to land titles put off investors
Businessmen and investors face administrative bottlenecks when they attempt to get land documents and other titles. Many become discouraged and frustrated, and often flee to more investor-friendly countries. Getting these documents may take as long as five years or more in some states. Some applicants simply give up the idea after a fruitless search.
In Ogun State, for instance, The Guardian gathered that some local investors who applied for Certificates of Occupancy (CoO) since 2012 were yet to receive them. They described government’s silence over the matter as disturbing, even as they lamented loss of capital due to the long process.
Dr. Kola Olusola Christwealth, entrepreneur and chairman of Christwealth Group in the Igbesa area of the state, regretted how the state government has treated indigenous investors.
He said: “Our plan was to have about 200 small-scale industrialists in Kola Christwealth Industrial Park (KCIP) in Igbesa. But could you believe that from 2012 till now, we have not had our Certificate of Occupancy. So, capitals are tied down. We’ve invested capital on equipment, we’ve invested capital on buildings, and many things are tied down. How do we release the capital to continue with our projects?
“We need titles for those properties. As I am talking to you now, I still have equipment at the port, imported since last year. I have no money to clear it, because we thought that with the kind of impetus the state government was giving to us, the land title process would be accelerated and we would be able to use such as collateral to inject funds into the projects. I am not alone. Virtually all of us, local business people, have the same challenge.”
He added: “Our capitals are trapped because we could not free the investment we made on land and buildings, and use those property as collateral. Imagine, for up to four years, we’ve not been able to get our land titles. This will not happen to a foreign investor. This will not happen to mega businesses, like Lever Brothers, Lafarge and others. We, local business people, who want to key into the vision of the governor in expanding Ogun State, are being relegated. This is very unfortunate.”
The Homeowners Charter Initiative, introduced by the state government, two years ago, and meant for property holders to regularise ownership, is also creating anxiety. Applicants are not happy at the slow pace the land titles are being issued.
Of over 150,000 applicants, a paltry 18,000 have so far received the certificates; raising fear the governor might be unable to fulfill his promise before his tenure ends in 2019.
Christwealth advised Governor Ibikunle Amosun and other state governors to encourage local investors. He said: “The governor should know that the big corporations cannot give as much employment as we would, because the higher your capital, the better automated your process, and the lesser the number of people you are able to employ. The lower your capital, the more labour intensive your process, and the more the number of people you are able to employ.”