Group Urges Senate to Amend Land Use Act

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Housing Development Advocacy Group of Nigeria has called on the ninth Senate under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Lawan to amend the Land Use Act 1978, saying its gross misapplication is the major cause of Nigeria’s current housing crisis. The President of the group, Festus Adebayo, in a statement yesterday stressed the need for the newly inaugurated National Assembly to pursue legislations needed to develop Nigeria’s housing sector after decades of neglect.

According to him, “With good legislation, some of the perennial problems, notably the Land Use Act, bedeviling the sector will be ameliorated and led to the reduction of the country’s housing deficit.

“The single most important factor in Nigeria’s housing crisis is the gross misapplication of the Land Use Act 1978, and the resultant denial of access to land to the poor. This would offer to harmonise pre-existing customary land tenure systems and free up land for new development, as the Act constitutes the most aggressive and far-reaching declaration of the power of eminent domain over urban and rural lands in Nigeria.”

The president also said the land-use policy is also constraining housing development and optimal economic use of land resources due to the mandatory requirement of the governor’s consent to land transactions such as sale, assignment, transfer or mortgage of land in urban areas.

The group called on the National Assembly to review the National Housing Fund in order to have a better law that would provide for additional sources of funding for financing housing development in
Nigeria.

He stressed that though the eighth National Assembly had passed the National Housing Fund (Establishment) bill to the President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, but was declined for certain reasons, adding that the ninth assembly should ensure that the reasons that prevented the president from signing the bill into law are resolved.

The group also called on the National Assembly to introduce policies that would enable affordability of housing in Nigeria as well as legislative interventions that can reduce the cost of building materials and also encourage local production.

It added that while Nigeria has the biggest and most promising housing market in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is ironically the least developed, and as such often fraught with challenges like substandard development, incompetency, building collapse and fraud.

It called for the establishment of a supra regulatory entity that would oversee the activities of practitioners, developers, professional bodies and agencies in the sector.