Land Ownership in Nigeria: Historical Development, Current Issues and Future Expectations

Namnso Bassey Udoekanem, David Odegwu Adoga, Victor Onyema Onwumere


Land is essential for every human activity on earth as it is the source of all material wealth. In order to regulate the ownership, use and development of land and land resources, nations the world over have instituted land ownership systems aimed at consistent balancing of the interests of the government, the land owning class and the landless class. This paper examines land ownership in Nigeria. The paper argues that land ownership structure in Nigeria has evolved over the years until 1978 when a single land policy document, otherwise known as the Land Use Act of 1978 was established to harmonise and regulate land ownership in the country. The paper further contends that the present land ownership system in Nigeria as enshrined in the Land Use Act of 1978 has socialist inclinations with excessive state control of land ownership, use and development. The paper concludes that such land system cannot effectively support private sector-driven enterprises and development initiatives as it creates too much bureaucracy in the documentation of land transactions, land registration and land titling. It recommends an urgent amendment of the nation’s Land Use Act to facilitate access to land with ease for various purposes.

Keywords: Land; Land System; Land Use Act; Land Ownership; Nigeria

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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