Samuel Ukpong, former Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Lagos Branch, has called for reform of the land tenure system to alleviate poverty and enhance economic development.
Ukpong told journalists Thursday in Lagos that many state governments do not understand the economic benefits of land reforms.
According to him, if they did, they will make issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) easier and reduce costs on property transfers.
He said reform of the land tenure system was key to development and remains a viable means of creating wealth to alleviate poverty.
“The issue of land reform is key for us because it is a source of wealth for everybody.
“Everybody has access to land in one form or the other and unless you are able to tap into the potential of the land that you already own, then you cannot develop.
“Reforming our land tenure system will help boost the economy, it will help the agriculture sector which is key,’’ Ukpong said.
He said that transactions on land was taking place everyday in states and villages, while nobody bothers to register them because government does not know they exist.
Ukpong said there was no way the mortgage sector could develop without a reform of the land tenure system.
“Ultimately, those who give mortgages must rely on something as a collateral and the most important thing they can rely upon was land.
“No matter how lenient you are with mortgages, they have to be collaterised and therefore, it is important that government must work hard with land reform agenda.
“Even, the Federal Government has an integral committee on land reform, a lot actually dwells absolutely with the state government on which Land Use Act invested so much power.
“Perhaps, if the governors understand the economic benefits of reforming their land tenure system, they will do something differently,’’ he said.
Ukpong said that the key aspect of what need to be done was for the state governors to appreciate the economic benefit if they reform their land policy to make issuance of C of O easy.
“It will boost land transaction and every landowner will register the land. Each state government will be able to earn property taxation income from properties in the state.
“Even, Lagos State, with its cosmopolitan nature, cannot claim to be able to collect tenement rate from all property in Lagos.
“It is only the ones you register in your state that you know exists,” he said.
The former NIESV chairman said that people would be encouraged to register land transactions when land charges were reduced.
He said that data bank on every property in the state, no matter their location, would ensure regular income for the state.