Oludele Sunday K.O
“Except for few addendum and provisions, this law is almost verbatim on the 1962 Land Tenure Law of the defunct Northern Region of Nigeria. What this implies is that, Nigerians are under an imposition of the northern ideology on land administration. No wonder for the unprecedented groaning under the law.”
“The exploitation of the poor masses is not originally part of the eastern, western and southern ideologies until recently when most of our overzealous politicians who want national relevance suddenly turn out to become proxies to the northern ideology and politics.”
You can’t enslave a person until you have disarmed him. You can’t exploit someone you have not disorientated. You can’t boss someone you have not limited, incapacitated and devalued. These are the vices resulting from the Land Use Act since it gets into the merciless hands of the tyrants. Nigerians are tactically and technically disarmed, exploited, disorientated, limited, incapacitated and disenfranchised on access to land and freehold ownership.
Our political elites assumed their enviable status through the mechanism of greed, cruelty and unfairness to the less privileged. Regrettably, the abundant resource of land which was a divine endowment to all Nigerians fell into the whim and caprices of the politicians whose desires are to convert national gifts to selves through the unwholesome Land Use Act.
Instead of administering the Land Use Acts to empower and creating wealth for all Nigerians, the act has been used arbitrarily in the most inhuman ways to create unimaginable gaps between the political elites and the unsuspecting electorates.
Speaking with one of the traditional rulers (Baales) who will like to remain anonymous in Obafemi-Owode Local Government area of Ogun state recently, he expressed unpleasant reactions against Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s passionate drive on land matters which had caused unprecedented economic harm to many impoverished and indigent rural dwellers than one could imagine.
The claim that the federal government’s policy on wealth creation and empowerment are notoriously flaunted and flawed with impunity especially on land ownership is badly felt in the ways and manners governor Amosu of Ogun state is extorting the poor and the lowly in the rural settlements.
It was revealed how the Ogun state government is victimising, terrorising and frightening the farmers to dislodge them of their lands. One should not forget that land is the main source of living for the rural people. The deliberate use of security apparatus to frighten the poor farmers to sign off their lands for the use of multinationals without sustainable economic benefit to these people is unfair and acutely cynical.
These lands are yielding multi billion naira in revenue to Ogun state government while the original owners are pacified with only about N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira only) per an acre of land. This meager compensation amounts to about forty-one thousand naira per plot of land only and without any ancillary benefits thereafter. This scenario portrays the government as using the resources of the poor to generate revenues which end up in private accounts via political motivated ghost contracts. While the condition of the impoverished inheritors and buyers of land are made worst, the governments are glorying on the revenues they are generating from other people’s properties.
The families of the rural farmers are mostly large. What would they achieve with a 250,000 naira that comes only one off? How will this meager proceed be shared among the large family members without causing undue war among the large beneficiaries? Can this infringement on the poor people truly improve their economic lives now or in the future? I wonder what the advisers to the Ogun state government on land matters are really doing to protect the interests of the disenfranchised people.
The Baale laments, “they frighten us with the presence of the Police, give us no option to bargain nor contest their proposal to force us to sell our commercial farmlands for industrial development. We are paid two hundred and fifty thousand naira per acre without additional benefits where the government have collected millions of naira from the foreign companies.
“None of us could challenge the actions of the government, that is not to say that we are pleased with the way and manner through which the Ogun state government is making wealth on our lands while imposing abject poverty on us arbitrarily. As the approaching development changes our ways of thinking and lifestyles, the land that we had envisaged would serve as spring boards for our financial emancipation has gone with regrets among those of us that the government has dealt with this way.
“The worst aspect of the entire transaction is that, our own industries (farmlands) are taken away from us. Our government have failed to realise that when you sell a farmland, you have shot down a factory. We can no longer go to farms. We have no farm produce to sell again. We lost our future and commerce in that forceful transaction. We now battle with how to fund our children’s education. How to feed and meet daily financial obligations.
“They brandish fleet of cars and wealth they got from our lands. They frighten us with Police to technically tie our hands and lips. Those who had objections have to caution themselves. The whole scenario means that they are out to keep us in poverty by force. We have no choice than to accept the unfavourable bargain and live with its unfashionable consequences. Only their wishes which were disadvantageous to us must be supported, else, you are marked for an executive manhunt. No one wishes to experience a politically motivated ordeal with the government.
“Many of us are physically tired and have retired from active farming services. We had cash crops and farm produce that support our retirement on the lands that the government encroached on by one law that we were told says the land belongs to the government. We thought it was an illusion until we saw the dexterity and cleverness deployed to achieve their objectives.
“We wish to challenge such bad law, but we are financially incapacitated. Where do we start from? We are illiterates and despondent. We don’t know where to go. The government is too big for us to combat. This makes us more helpless, hopeless, incapacitated and miserable,” he said.
Quite a number of benefiting political class members and their supporters are pleased with the repressive power derivable through the Land Use Act against the commonwealth of the citizens. The generality of the Nigerian people are massively disadvantaged. This unfortunate drawback transcends class and status unless you belong to the greedy political class who holds ownership to land sway. They dominate and exercise political influence on land acquisition with impunity.
The beneficiaries of the act would wedge their weights on the act to always have it all thesame inspite of its unprecedented infringement against the rights of the bereft masses. These sets of people that are leveraging the act to deny the Nigerian masses of their traditional, customary and God given rights on land are in all sphere of human endeavours: politics, governance, real estate, judiciary, survey, architecture, building construction, media, publishing, banking, insurance, marketing, trade, oil and gas, manufacturing, illiteracy, academics, travel and tourism, local, foreign, the diaspora, etc. This makes the battle against the act a difficult one.
Apart from the political clout, majority of our people are merely ignorant of the exploitative elements in the act against the rights of the masses. This also is another clog in the fighting process. Despite all of these challenges, the fact to the inalienable rights of our citizens to our lands is incontestible, undebatable, undeniable and cannot be outlawed.
Reversion to status quo ante is a sensible option to avert future breakdown of law and order. People are getting wiser everyday. Exploitation can’t continue this way to build a nation. There is an end to inhumanity. Increase in insurgency in some part of the northeast is something to learn a lesson from. The youths and the people had had a long standing culture of neglect, abuse of human right and extortion. Today, the only way they think they can fight back is to say yes to the forces of insurgency.
Except for few addendum and provisions, the land use act is almost verbatim on the 1962 Land Tenure Law of the defunct Northern Region of Nigeria. What this implies is that, Nigerians are under an imposition of the northern ideology on land administration. No wonder for the unprecedented groaning under the law.
The exploitation of the poor masses is not originally part of the eastern, western and southern ideologies until recently when most of our overzealous politicians who want political relevance suddenly turn out to become proxies to the northern ideology and politics. Whatever the north does goes. That is gullibility of the highest standard in record times.
Section 5 of the act that confers the power to grant statutory right of occupancy by the Governors to property owners is responsible for the logistic constraints, bottlenecks, hindrances, cumbersomeness, hardships and delays in registration and processing of land documents.
Under normal conditions, this section is not necessary to ensure smooth procurement of land official papers. Besides, Nigerians don’t need the rights of occupancy in form of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for their respective land documentation. Nigerians are entitled to CERTIFICATE OF OWNERSHIP (C of O or for the sake of differentiation, C of OWN) instead, for documentation only. Nigerians are stakeholders in the Nigerian project. They are partakers in the land ownership. They are the primary people that the divine God released this resource to. Their ownership of land cannot be determined by documents where conflicting interests are not in contest.
The provisions of the Land Use Act are running contrary to freeholding title. That is why the act is seen by analysts as being an executive scam, disenfranchisement, an infringement on human rights and an exploitation against the armless, innocent and ignorant masses.
Chief among the reasons for land documentation is for proper administration, revenue generation for the government in form of tax on land, mortgage, convertibility, transferability, sublease and security for venture capital, etc.
There are so much evils and insecurity in Nigeria today because greed had redefined and divided us. We are no longer trusted fellow citizens. Nigerians will like to see the end of the implementation of this act being the explicit repressive ideology of one region coupled with the military spirit behind its enactment. Being an undesirable instrument of anarchy, the continuous implementation of it could spell trouble for the actualisation of the development of Nigeria as a nation. Our leaders should not forget that great oaks grow from small acorns.
Oludele Sunday Kolawole Olumide is the head of the team of Nollywood Film Village project comprising Entertainment Village Estate, Nollywood Farms and Nollywood for Children and Youths. The entire project shall be a tourist location in Ogun state at completion. Land buyers and investors can call or WhatsApp: 08033030614 to take vantage position in the actualisation of this laudable concept.