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Estate surveyors urge land reform, mortgage sector recapitalisation


WITH the indecisive position of the National Assembly on land reform and mortgage sector still caught in the battle for survival, members of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) have urged the government to pursue vigorously a land reform agenda, which will promote registration of titles and review the consent provisions of the Land use Act.

They are also advocating for adequately recapitalised of primary mortgage institutions to prepare them as a veritable channel for giving mortgage loan to beneficiaries.

The recommendations were part of the fallout at the 40th yearly conference held in Lagos under the theme Vision 20:2020 and Challenges of Housing Construction and Development in Nigeria.

The high point of the six-day affair was the change of baton between the out-going President, Chief Emeka Onuorah and the 19th President, Mr. Bode Adediji at a Dinner and Presidential Award Night held at the Eko Hotels, Lagos at the weekend.

Adediji emerged as the President Elect from his position as the First Vice President after a keenly contested election between him and Mr. Osita Okoli.

Ironically, Adedeiji and Okoli who previously was the Second Vice President slugged it out last year in Awka for the position of the First Vice President.

Others elected as members of NIESV National Executive Council are Emeka Eleh (1st Vice President), James Omeru (2nd Vice President), Roland Abonta (Nat. Secretary), Kunle Awolaja (Nat. Assistant Secretary), Linda Patunola-Ajayi (Nat. Treasurer), Gloria Briggs (Nat. Asst. Treasurer), Emmanuel Mark (Nat. Publicity Secretary) and Victor Ayeye (Nat. Asst Publicity Secretary).

Meanwhile, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Nduese Essien, who set the tune for the conference called for new measures to strengthen the operations of the built sector and to eliminate illegal operators. He also sought the adoption of the provisions of the National Building Code as well as other prescribed building standards. His words: “Since nature has insulated us from some of the natural disasters that have devastated other nations, we should not allow criminals under the guise of developers, to continue to waste the lives and resources of our people.”

NIESV President, Chief Emeka Onuorah, lamented the rejection of the proposal to amend the Land Use Act and other related laws by the legislators was counterproductive as the could not move forward without proper land reforms.

He urged stakeholders in land administration and management to come together and act as pressure groups to impress it upon the lawmakers on the need to pass the bills because of the present difficulties being encountered in the process of land acquisition and development.

NIESV’s Second Vice President, Mr. Emeka Eleh, argued that with available data indicating that only about three per cent of land being registered title, “it means that the bulk of our land areas fall within the category of “dead capital” as they can not be used to create wealth. The process of titling every parcel of land in the country should be embarking upon in order to give every land owner a secure title for his land.”

Before this is achieved, he said, the National Assembly should take steps to pass bills sent to it with regards to the review of the consent provisions of the Land Use Act as this provision is one of the greatest impediments in land administration system. Eleh called on state governments to simplify and lessen the cost of obtaining consent to land transactions.

Speaking on the theme, he further urged the government to continue to make massive investments in the area of infrastructure in order to lessen the cost of new homes, increasing living standards, reduce the cost of land, encourage people to live outside the cities, reduce unemployment amongst others. “Lack of infrastructure most especially roads is a major source of the high cost of land and undue pressure on urban facilities as most people tend to populate the cities which has only but semblance of infrastructure which is key to housing was not given adequate attention in the Vision 20: 2020.”

Eleh also advised that the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Housing Authority should both be strengthened and privatised to remove the bureaucratic bottlenecks that tend to slow their operations.

“The primary mortgage institutions should be adequately recapitalised and supervised to prepare them to be a veritable channel for mortgage to beneficiaries. Contributions to the National Housing Fund should also be enforced to ensure that everybody in all sectors contribute to it,” he said.

He also recommended that research into the sourcing and production of alternative building materials to reduce dependence on imported materials should be encouraged. “There is a need for the institution of adequate legal and institutional framework that will enhance the growth of the housing sector. These include the institution of mortgage insurance and title insurance as well as the review and reenactment of our foreclosure/power of sale laws. At present the difficulty in foreclosing on a property at the default of a customer has made reliance on properties as collaterals very unattractive. A review of such laws including repossession laws under the existing landlord and tenant laws will enhance investor confidence,” he added.

Speaking on the Lagos land Use charge Law and Vision 20:2020, Dr. Olawande Oni, stated that the capital value basis of calculating the land use charge is inappropriate and should be amended so that determination of the charge could be based on annual open market net rental value.

He suggested that the state government should appoint estate surveyors to determine the appropriate yearly values on a net basis of valuation, collect and remit land use charge to government.

According to him, consideration must be given to delays and defaults in rent payment. “If Lagos State government insists on prompt payment of the charge, then there should be provisions to protect the owners against rent arrears by tenants while penalty should be 10 per cent flat a year after payment has been delayed for more than six months.”

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