the effects of land use act on housing and property development in nigeria

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Land use regulations and controls are used to restrict the rights of private land holders in the use of land. The regulations are used to protect public interest in the use of private land. The regulations stem from the need to provide public amenities, to increase the efficiency of land-use, to limit urban sprawl and unnecessary encroachment on agricultural land, and to achieve economies of scale and least-cost production of public services (Courtney, 1983).  The regulations are also used to ensure the availability of land to all groups, and to ensure that the benefits of development go to the community as a whole.

Today, if you buy land in Nigeria and you do not have the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) from the government, it is not yours, all you have is a lease, that is, you never have a freehold. You cannot even have access to any loan or do anything tangible if you do not have fund of your own, not even the National Housing Fund which was set up by the government to render such assistance. Yet the Certificate of Occupancy is even more difficult than getting the land itself. All efforts by some State Governments especially the Lagos State government to ease the procedure and collection have been described as mere gimmicks. We have heard series of cases where Governors wield their powers to revoke legally acquired rights of occupancy in the interest of the public, whereas it was obvious that they were done on political reasons especially against oppositions. The former President of the federation who was the author of the Act when it was promulgated during his first military administration had to reassure Nigerians on 26th of September 2001 in Abuja that “no government owns land” and that “land belongs to the people”. This statement was made when he was condemning the excesses of the Governors. As stated above, since it is a known philosophy that laws are made by men for men and are operated, implemented and enforced by human beings through various legal institutions, our concern is how the Act has affected sustainable housing development schemes in Nigeria.

Several controversies that were created by the Act have been well documented in different reactions and

write-ups (Mabogunje (2007; 2011) and Aluko (2007; 2009; 2010) dealt excessively on the gory state of affairs about the housing situations in Nigeria in general and how it could be sustained. In this research study, we try to examine the effects that the Land Use Act has had on sustainable housing provision in Nigeria. Since one of the major areas of the Act is to control future uses and open new land for the needs of Nigeria’s growing population especially in urban areas, yet there is still the outcry of the people to affordable housing provision. In Lagos State for example, the municipalities (local governments) have no say in the issue of Certificate of Occupancy as all lands in the State has been declared urban and are all under the control of the governor. Whereas in the commencement of the Land Use Act 1978 No. 6 on 29th March, 1978, it was stated that “whereas it is in the public interest that the rights of all Nigerians to the land of Nigeria be asserted and preserved by law”. And that all lands comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of the Stat. The Act also provides that “all land in urban areas shall be under the control and management of the Governor of each State”.


The concern of the researcher in this study is not really another criticism of the Act but an in-depth evaluation of how it has achieved its aim in the mass provision of housing to the people. However the hope of the Nigerian masses lies in the Act with the current wave of high cost of acquisition of land. It should be noted that one of the cogent reasons why the Act came into existence was because of the nature of trusteeship of land in the past. It was difficult for anyone to get access to land. It is important for the researcher to examine if the Act has made it easy for Nigerians to get land for housing development. Ownership of a house starts from the acquisition of a piece of land. That is to say the intending house owner must first of all have access to land. In urban areas access to land is not quite easy and that is why one of the objectives of the Land Use Act is to ensure that land is made available promptly to all those who need it in the interest of the economy. Having regards to the fact that housing is one of the best indicators of a person’s standard of living and of his place in the society, it also serves as a place in which man seeks shelter, comfort, security and dignity among other things, it is important to examine the effect of Land use Act of sustainable housing development in Nigeria.


The following are the objectives of this study:

1.  To examine the effect of land use acts on sustainable housing development in Nigeria.

2.  To investigate the influence of land use act on ease of land access by Nigerians.

3.  To identify the factors limiting sustainable housing development in Nigeria.


1.  What is the effect of land use acts on sustainable housing development in Nigeria?

2.  What is the influence of land use act on ease of land access by Nigerians?

3.  What are the factors limiting sustainable housing development in Nigeria?


HO: Land use act has no significant effect on sustainable housing development in Nigeria

HA: Land use act has significant effect on sustainable housing development in Nigeria


The following are the significance of this study:

1.  Findings from this study will educate the general public, government, students on the state of housing development in Nigeria and also enlighten them on land use act and its impact on sustainable housing development in Nigeria.

2.  This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied, it will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.


This study on the effect of land use act on sustainable housing development in Nigeria will cover all the existing housing development and schemes by government and how the land use act has affected the ownership of land for housing development.


Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


Housing: houses and flats considered collectively.

Land: the part of the earth’s surface that is not covered by water.

Development: an event constituting a new stage in a changing situation.


Aluko, Ola. (2007). Renal Sub-sector and Housing Delivery System in Nigeria a paper presented at the National Workshop on Private Sector Driven Housing Delivery; Issues, Constraints, Challenges and Prospects organized by University of Lagos, Department of Estate Management in collaboration with Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), at Main Auditorium, University of Lagos, between (July 30-31).

Aluko, Ola. (2009). The role of the professionals in the built environment, in Aluko, Ola Editor (Eds.), Introductory Course in Environmental Sciences. Ibadan: Kins.

Aluko, Ola. (2010). Housing Provision and Development in Nigeria: The Dashed Hope of the poor, paper presented at the National Conference and Exhibition on Challenges of Sheller and Environment for Nigeria in the coming Decades (CEENACON) organized by College of Engineering and Environmental Sciences, Imo State University, Owerri (April 6-9).

Courtney, N. (1983). Cases and Materials on Nigerian Land Law (pp. 1 – 49). Mabochi Books.

Mabogunje A. L. (2007). Developing Mega Cities in Developing Countries, being text of a lecture delivered at a Colloquim organized by the 2007 Graduating Class, Department of Geography, University of Lagos on Wednesday (September 12).

Mabogunje, Akin L. (2011). Promoting Good Governance: What Can We, The People, Do? Paper presented at 4th Anniversary Public Lecture of the splash 105.5 FM, Ibadan on Friday (July 8).


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