Experts seek national policy on land use
Environmental experts have called for a national framework and policy for land use in Nigeria.
They made the call at a two day public lecture on “Policy Intersection: Strengthening Bottom up Accountability amidst Land Grabs in Nigeria. The Cross River Experience: the need for a model Land Use Act”.
The event was organized by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of Earth Nigeria (ERA/FEN) and facilitated by Dr. Maurice Olory of the Community Forest Watch at the Centre for Educational Services, University of Calabar.
According to the experts, the current Land Use Act that came into effect in 1978 has outlived its usefulness as it serves the interest of few privileged persons in government at the detriment of communities and the masses.
The experts, which include the Head of Department, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Calabar, Dr. Raphael Offiong, a legal practitioner with ERA/FEN, Mr. Nurudeen Ogbara and a Professor of Agrarian Studies International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, Professor Satumino Borras submitted that the act is oppressive.
Beyond, they argued that it gives much power to the government and the governors as they take land in the name of overriding public interest and divert it for their personal interest hence the need for the national framework and policy on land use.
Presenting a paper on “Policy Interactions: Strengthening bottom up accountability and land grabs”, Dr. Offiong said with the land use act, individuals and communities like Ekong Anaku, Mbarakom, Njaghasang and others have over the years lost their lands to government and multinationals without due consultation or a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU).
He said the impact of the Land Use Act has led to “indiscriminate entry into contiguous community land without due consultation, lack of restriction on land intake and lack of farm expansion leading to unemployment as government take land for overriding public interest but transfer same without consulting the people. ”.
On his part, Mr. Ogbara who presented a paper on “The Cross River Experience: the Need for Model Land Use Act” said, equally condemned current Land Use Act as it favours only the government and its cronies.