Land Use Act not effective says Fashola
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has said that the Land Use Act was not defective as it was serving the purpose for which it was enacted.
Fielding questions at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, Fashola however noted that the administration of the law was its greatest challenge.
He therefore said that any review of the Act should be done at the State level because land administration is in the Residual List.
The minister explained that there were no plans to amend the Land Use Act of 1978, saying land administration is the exclusive preserve of the states.
“This is so because land is a state matter. If anybody is going to amend the Act it should be the state governor who can amend it or the Minister of Federal Capital Territory because the Federal Government does not own land.
“The Federal Government does not own land except the one it acquires from the state or granted by the state.
“In deciding whether to amend the Act or not to amend it, the anomaly of having the Act as part of constitution as a one-off should be put into consideration.
“They put the Act in the constitution to protect it,’’ said Fashola.
He said that in the history of the Act, there were conflicts, communal clashes and deaths that occurred while people were fighting over land but seem to have been forgotten.
“That was what led to the Land Use Act, and the interesting thing about that law is that every section has been litigated at least up to the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court, so everybody knows what that law means.’’
The minister emphasised that there was no empirical evidence that the Land Use Act was the problem hindering access to land.
“Some people hold that view but there is no empirical study and evidence to prove that that is the problem.
“There is access to land administration challenges, there is cost of doing business relating to cost of perfecting transaction relating to land.
“But I do not think that the evidence that I have seen suggest that it is the Land Use Act that is the problem,’’ the minister said.
Fashola noted that the problem hindering easy access to land could be pegged to the administration of the Land Use Act, adding that one could automate the process of getting consent over land.
“If you want to give consent over land there must be survey, geographic information system mapping, auto photo and all of the technologies available to help the administration of the Land Use Act.
“Because you can see the land on screen, you can verify the particulars and therefore processing the approvals is easier.’’
Fashola recalled that during his tenure as Lagos state governor one of the things his administration did was to automate the system of signing Certificate of Occupancy (C of O).
He said this was because they used to carry the “yellow files’’ everywhere but once they put all the yellow files to a much more electronic document for online transaction it became easier and efficient.
According to him, states that have high turnover will seem inefficient if the land documents are not automated.