Imperative of effective land redistribution for sustainable rural/urban growth

The ever-increasing human desire to satisfy their growing needs have unarguably made way for inter-dependent relationship to exist between them and their natural environment. Land, as an essential component of the environment, is perceived as a free gift of nature and considered for its vital in human survival. The numerous functions played by land as a factor of production (source of livelihood, food and shelter) have resulted to a spike in the overall demand for its utilisation despite the fact land remains subject to scarcity like every other economic goods due to its fixity and shortness in supply.

Presently, the world is faced with an exponential growth in household size, the outburst in human population has given rise to a surging demand with a corresponding fall in the supply of land. Overtime, concerns as to how land can be evenly distributed for man’s utilisation have occupied the minds of policy makers whose thoughts are positioned towards correctly addressing questions bordering on the possibility for equality.

In Nigeria, land is governed by laws patterned after the similitude of the British colonialist. Prior to Nigeria’s independence in 1960, land was forcefully taken by the colonialists without adequate compensation.The system introduced entrenched an uneven distribution of land as it allowed for the bulk of available land to be left in their absolute control. This unfair access to land led to the impoverishment of rural dwellers, who depended solely on land for their livelihood.

The skewed pattern of land distribution persisted even after independence. Elites who were affluent took ownership of lands whose market value exceeded the purchasing power of low income groups who formed a greater percentage of the entire population of society. Land redistribution as a policy to resolve the unequal allocation of land is an administrative instrument in land governance imperative towards ensuring the restoration of land to deprived citizens through reform programmes.

Boosting rural and urban economy could be obtained through strict implementation and monitoring of planning measures specifying minimum developable land area to be owned by individuals regardless of their economic class, the elimination of speculative hoarding of land by the rich at the detriment of the poor will be stalled as well as averting peasants from hardship and deprivation.

Creating easy access to land will impact positively on the level of productivity by small and medium enterprises, which could give rise to self-sufficiency and increased gross national income (GNI) through bilateral engagement in large-scale exportation. Acquisition of mass rural lands for public use though expropriation with due payment of compensation or adequate resettlement as alternative will minimise scarcity and overcome customary land tenure system, which only recognises indigenous land titles.

Non-indigenes who were initially restricted due to traditional tenure system will be given a chance to invest in land, bringing about the provision of basic infrastructure and services. Consolidating on the gains of land redistribution, which seek to transfer land from the hands of fewer persons who are affluent to a multitude of destituteindividuals, will foster equality, economic prosperity and development.

The achievement of successful land reform policies and programmes is pivoted on good political will and sustained collaboration between public authorities and experts trained in land management such as estate surveyors and valuers, urban and regional planners and other related disciplines capable of developing blueprints for sound decision making towards actualising equitable land distribution.

Amunega Ayobola Ibukun,


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