LAND TENURE SYSTEM AT MGBID, ORU WEST L.GA, IMO STATE
It is estimated that over 4.6 billion people will live in the world’s urban areas by 2030. In Nigeria, 48 per cent of the population currently lives in urban areas. Low income population are indeed the most vulnerable concerning issues of accessing land for housing. This is because they often lack a regular income and savings to comply with the required conditions for formal purchase and occupation of land.
More than 40 per cent of population in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State lives below poverty line. In some of the city’s districts it has even exceeded 50 per cent. The struggle by this poor population for shelter has manifested in a variety of ways, ranging from residing in unsafe tenement compounds to multi-purpose shops (business and residence).
Among the presidents’ 7 point agenda is a proposal for amendment of the Nigerian land tenure law (the Land Use Act – which vested the ownership of all lands in a state in the governor of that state). The sections proposed for amendment include the section 5 of the act which empowered the governor to grant rights (in leasehold), demand and revise rents on such lands, and also powers to wholly or partly waive the conditions attached to acquisition of rights in special circumstances.
This paper tries to show that the section 5 of the existing land tenure law and the current compensation procedures has a potential for improving access to land by low income.
The paper suggested the utilisation of the community-driven land tenure systems in conjunction with the provisions of the section 5 of the land use act and the existing land acquisition and compensation process as a proactive approach to foster positive urban development rather than the conventional reactive approach to informality. This will as well serve as a security for the low income against potential market temptations. Also, the role and capacities of NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) in this respect should be promoted because the NGOs appeared to be the bridge in all the reviewed cases between the low income communities, land owners and policy makers.
Tenure arrangements, Land Use Act, Community mortgage, Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State, Access to land
The majority of people on earth are now living in cities and towns. By 2030, over 4.6 billion people will live in urban areas (Wish 2009). For this urban population, access to secure shelter is a precondition for access to other benefits such as livelihood opportunities, public services and credit (Payne 2002). Tenure therefore forms the foundation on which any effort to improve the living condition for the poor has to be built.
There is however counter arguments to this: Recent reviews of urban tenure policy suggest that titling has not achieved its objectives and is of doubtful benefit to the poor (Angel 2001 and Fernandes 2001, in Payne 2002 (9)). Similarly, Oswald (1999) argues that the higher a nations level of home ownership the higher its level of unemployment.
Oswald cited an example with Switzerland as having the lowest rate of home ownership in the industrialised nations and only 1% unemployment, while in Spain 80% of population own their homes and 13% unemployment rate. Oswald concluded that home ownership levels restrict labour market mobility and thereby increase unemployment. The subject is not one that can easily be defined or delivered according to universally agreed norms. This is because tenure has many historical, cultural, legal and economic associations that affect people’s perception and behaviour.
In 2008, 48% of Nigeria’s population lives in urban areas. Also, Nigeria is ranked 158 out of 177 on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Poverty Index in 2007. People living in relative poverty declined from 65.6% in 1996 to 54.4% in 2004 (UNDP 2007). According to UN Habitat however, poverty rate in Nigeria has skyrocketed to 76% in 2009 (This Day 2009).
In the same vein, close to 77% of Nigerian city dwellers are living in urban slums, while 99% of problems expected to be addressed under the MDG are located in urban settlements. People living in poverty are often the most vulnerable as regards access to land. This is because they usually lack a regular income source and savings to apply for credit and meet the stringent building codes and other conditions required for formal purchase and occupation of land (Smolka and Damasio 2005).
1.1 THE PROBLEM
In a similitude of what is obtained at the national level, more than 40% of the population in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State lives below poverty line (URP 2008). In some districts it has even exceeded 50% (Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State district). The struggle by this poor population for shelter has manifested through a variety of ways, ranging from residing in unsafe tenements compounds to multi-purpose shops (business and residence).
In 2008, the federal government of Nigeria proposed amendments to the 1978 Land Use Act under the president’s 7 point Agenda. Among the sections of the Act proposed for amendment is section 5 which vested all land in the state under the governor of that state, and accorded the governor with powers to grant statutory rights (in leasehold), demand and revise rents on such lands. The powers of the governor according to the proposal should be reduced.
However, those powers could be utilized in providing access to land particularly to the low income, considering the fact that meagre amounts are required to acquire land for development. According to Uwakonye and Osho (2007), land reform is concerned with changing the institutional structure governing man’s relationship with the land, involving intervention in the prevailing pattern of land ownership, control and usage in order to change the structure of holdings, improve land productivity and broaden the distribution of benefits.
It is the intent of this paper therefore to describe the existing coping strategies of low income in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State in gaining access to land and examine how the powers of the governor under the Nigeria’s land tenure law (the Land Use Act) could be used to improve access to land by low income. The focus will be on the section 5 which presents a potential within the existing act to improve access to land for low income.
To examine the various tenure arrangements under which the low income residents of Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State are gaining access to land. This is with a view to raise the profile of understanding that would serve as a means of encouraging supportive policy intervention.
- To review the concept of land tenure in developing economies, and access to land by low income groups.
- To examine the land tenure system in Nigeria before the Land use Act.
- To describe the existing practice of land administration in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State and examine the powers of the governor under the Land Use Act as a tool for providing the low income with access to land.
- To suggest ways for improvement of the status quo through the lessons learned from reviewed case studies.
Studies have shown that, effect of regulations have historically proved to be restrictive to informal sector, which operate as a medium of access to land not only for low income but the majority of the population (Acioly 2007). Similarly, although most spatial planners position themselves as promoters of social and ecological issues, they often neglect the relationship between the poor and the land.
Does it suffice for instance to provide space for social housing? Although housing is critical for the poor, Davy (2009) argued that the current global discourse on poverty and property is not confined to social housing, but includes the vulnerability of land uses by the poor. The paper is therefore timely in view of the current global discourse on poverty and property as well as the increasing awareness in its relationship to land policies particularly in the developing world.
The need for reform strategies to accommodate specific interest of the low income is evident in a number of developing countries. South Africa and the Philippines are some examples.
Existing literature on land tenure systems f will be reviewed to form the framework for discussion. The study will also make use of available data from existing empirical studies as regards the existing land administration procedures in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State and also the various tenure arrangements that exist in the different districts of the city. The city is divided into five administrative districts usually for data collection convenience, and in response to their differing socio-economic characteristics (Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State city, Tudun wada, Sabon gari, GRA, and Samaru).
The discussion would be from general to specific relating the apparent characteristics to possible explaining factors in descriptive terms.
LAND TENURE SYSTEM AT MGBID, ORU WEST L.GA, IMO STATE
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