Advantages and Disadvantages of Land Use Act in Nigeria - A Comprehensive Explanation

The Land Use Act of 1978 was initially introduced with the intention of addressing land tenure issues that had been a challenge across Nigeria. The primary goal was to streamline and regulate land ownership, as well as to promote efficient land use, urban development, and economic growth. The Land use act (formerly called the Land Use Decree) was promulgated on 29th of March 1978 to be exact. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is to take the credit for being the man who made the Land Use Act an integral part of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the military regime before he eventually handed over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari-led Federal Government.



According to Chapter 202 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, the Land Use Act is:



“An Act to Vest all Land compromised in the territory of each State (except land vested in the Federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State , who would hold such Land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the State and to organisations for residential, agriculture, commercial and other purposes while similar powers will with respect to non-urban areas are  conferred on Local Governments (27th March 1978) Commencement.”



To break it down:



Vesting of Land:


One of the most notable features of the Land Use Act is the vesting of ownership of all land within the territory of a state in the state's governor. This means that the government, represented by the governor, holds the land in trust for the people, and individuals or entities can only acquire rights to use the land.



Consent Requirement for Transactions:


The Land Use Act stipulates that individuals or entities looking to acquire land for various purposes must obtain the consent of the governor. This consent is essential for any transfer, sale, lease, or mortgage of land. The act of obtaining consent aims to ensure proper documentation and prevent fraudulent land transactions.



Certificate of Occupancy (C of O):


The Land Use Act introduced the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) as the primary evidence of the right to occupy and use land. This document is obtained from the government and serves as proof of legal land possession. It offers a level of security and certainty for landholders.



Land Use and Planning:


The Land Use Act empowers the government to control land use and urban planning. This is intended to prevent haphazard development, promote efficient land use, and ensure orderly growth of urban areas.



Compensation for Acquisition:


In cases where the government acquires land for public purposes, the Land Use Act requires that compensation be paid to the affected landowners. The compensation is expected to be fair and just, reflecting the value of the land and improvements made on it.



Advantages and Disadvantages of the Land Use Act



The Land use Act promulgated in 1978 and made an integral part of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeriawas aimed with good intentions promoting the proper and efficient use of land but also came with a number of challenges and limitations



Advantages of the Land Use Act



Prevention of Land Speculation:


The Land Use Act helps curb speculative activities related to land. the act ensures that land is used for intended purposes rather than being held for speculative purposes. 



Secured Property Rights:


Through the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), the Land Use Act provides a secure proof of legal land possession. 



Regulation of Urban Development:


This regulation ensures that urban areas are developed in an orderly and planned manner, reducing congestion, promoting infrastructure development, and enhancing the overall quality of living in cities and towns.



Reduction of Land-Related Conflicts:


With a clear framework for land ownership and transactions, the Land Use Act plays a significant role in reducing land-related conflicts. 




Disadvantages of the Land Use Act



The Land Use Act of 1978, a cornerstone of Nigerian real estate legislation, has garnered both praise and criticism since its enactment and is indeed without drawbacks as there are a number of challenges associated with the act.



Centralized Control:


One notable disadvantage of the Land Use Act is the centralized control of land ownership in the hands of the government. Many have argued the act has led to bureaucracy and inefficiencies in land transactions. 



Limited Access to Land for Investors:


The requirement for government consent and the potential for bureaucratic hurdles can make it challenging for investors to access land quickly and efficiently. 



Compensation Challenges:


While the act mandates compensation for land acquired by the government, disputes over fair compensation can arise. 



Inflexible Land Use Allocation:


The act's provision for government control over land use can result in inflexibility and delay in land allocation. 



In Conclusion, understanding the intricacies of this act is essential (especially as a developer) for navigating the Nigerian real estate landscape with confidence and compliance to all regulations. The School of Estate provides a specialisation in Real Estate Development that prepares you to make informed decisions with experiences from renowned experts in the Industry.