Oludele Sunday K.O
… Continued from last edition.
It is uncontroversial that there are abundant gift of land that Nigeria is blessed with. These numerous gifts if equitably shared could go round our population in wealth creation for our people but greed is a localised spell that has eaten too deep into the fabrics of our political class. We haven’t got leaders but rulers. That is the spate of today’s hardship in spite of the massive natural endowments.
The act was presented as a solution that was to help build a healthy and conducive environment for all and sundry, little did we know that it was going to be a clog on the wheel of economic progress, housing development and individual housing schemes.
We just got to see and experience the effect of the multiple misinterpretation of the act as been a tool to limit Nigerians from claiming their rights on land ownership. The act has failed outstandingly to fairly and equitably accomplish its objective on the part of the Nigerian people in about 40 years of its enforcement. Only the government, political cronies and allies have gained undue benefits at the expense of the gullible people of Nigeria.
When the act was young, majority of Nigerians were full of hope. They thought it would bring more blessing than curse. Today, individuals and families are facing critical challenges to own land as against the objective of the act. They groan in silence as we keep asking, why is this so?
The act states: “and whereas it is also in the public interest that the rights of all Nigerians to use and enjoy land in Nigeria and the natural fruits thereof in sufficient quantity to enable them (citizens) to provide for the sustenance of themselves and their families should be assured, protected and preserved.”
How can we aptly define “public interest” in this case? Who decides for whom to accurately actualise true public interest? Secondly, where is the assurance of sustenance for Nigerians through the endowed land when citizens have to struggle to acquire a portion of land in recent times?
The administrative bottlenecks and the selling rates are conflicting realities that Nigerians decry against this act. The act has turned out to become a repressive tool to orchestrate, perpetrate and distant the majority of the Nigerian citizens from the dividends of land which we all have a collective right to own.
Any war against traditional land owners: (individuals, families and communities) is a war against development, economic boost and wealth creation. To a large extend, our customary land ownership structure, if well administered, could help build all-inclusive governance with human face as opposed to the repressive provisions of the land use act that our governments are entrenching with force, threat, deception and acute lies.
As mentioned in the last edition, land laws are not suppose to worsen the conditions of the indigents by any standard, technical or political as we find in the land use act of Nigeria running today.
The wealth of a nation is traditionally built on the wealth of its citizens. A progressive government will avoid precarious policies that are capable of destabilising, limiting and disorientate its citizens. A good government will also avoid any measure that could demean its citizens and render them incapable of functioning or surviving optimally individually.
Where the indigents member of a community is unjustly treated, suppressed, manipulated, disenfranchised, oppressed or exploited on land matters, the government policy that supports such could be said to be an executive instrument of anarchy and repression. It is quite unfortunate to see the land use act been erroneously interpreted and executed for enslaving the citizens.
If you don’t know the definition of modern slavery, acute exploitation, oppression and disenfranchisement, go to Ogun state communities where Sen. Ibikunle Amosun has operated with impunity. Upon the excessive land mass in Ogun state, villages are been sold to foreigners and industries by the state merchants. I reiterate, not by the hapless and ill fated villagers but by the sitting government. Imagine the mental trauma, emotional discomfort and psychological damages this traditional displacement will cause the affected young and old citizens and families. These lands are not sold to improve their conditions but to impoverish them the more.
There are many wrongs, discrepancies and flaws with government policies that glory in acquiring family lands to resell to third parties at the expense of the original owners. Land, being a viable resource could assist in actualising government’s poverty alleviation drives if genuinely and equitably managed.
In deploying administrative control on land, consideration must be extended to the poor masses, including but not restricted to the farmers, mechanics, plumbers, vulcanizers, welders, carpenters, cobblers, petty traders, bus conductors, etc. A reasonably friendly law that finds global solutions to the menace imposed on Nigerians arbitrarily through the land use act is what Nigerians are expecting from the restructuring committee on land tenure.
It must be a restructuring that brings hope and economic empowerment with flavour for wealth creation. Land provides a channel of poverty alleviation if well managed. The prosperity of the citizens is the wealth of the nation. No country can be rated to be great with poor citizens. Land ownership is therefore our collective right. The government should finally stop the illegal acquisition drives that are inflicting more pains on our people for Nigerians to sigh for relief.
Oludele Sunday Kolawole Olumide is the head of the team of Nollywood Film Village project comprising Entertainment Village, Nollywood Farms and Nollywood for Children and Youths. Call/WhatsApp: 08033030614.