By NBF News

CHAIRMAN, Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON), Clement Nwabichie, has called on the Federal Government to speed up its land reform initiative in order to remove the bottlenecks attached to land acquisition and give Nigerians easy access to land.

Describing the land reform agenda as a bold policy initiative, Nwabichie urged the National Assembly to handle the Land Use Amendment Bill forwarded to it by the Federal Government expeditiously.

Also, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubike Ihejirika, has stressed the importance of the land reform agenda to achieving Vision 2020

Nwabichie and Ihejirika spoke at the weekend during the induction of new surveyors in Abuja.

Ihejirika argued that until Nigeria's land was put into more functional and effective use through titling and registration, the country was not likely to quicken its pace of socio-economic development.

He stressed: 'For a country striving to be one of the 20 largest economies of the world by 2020, the situation with respect to property rights and transactions in land still leaves very much to be desired. This is because a large share of property in Nigeria is not formally registered and as a result, informal titles cannot be used as security in obtaining loans which limits financial opportunities for businesses especially the small and medium enterprises and thus impede economic development.'

Ihejirika noted that the Land Use Act of 1978 had become a clog on the wheel of development over the years, as any attempt to rectify its inadequacies required a constitutional amendment.

He observed that even though the Act has made it easy for governments to acquire land for public purposes, drastically minimised the burden of land compensation and reduced court litigations over land, it has also created serious problems for land measurement and management in the country.

His words: 'Of particular mention is the process of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) which begins with survey of the affected parcel of land before the C of O is prepared, registered and issued. The process as at today remains tedious, lengthy and unnecessarily expensive and the bulk of land in Nigeria is not covered by such registry-able titles.'

But Ihejirika stated that the land reform embarked upon by the Federal Government was revolutionary and aimed at 'converting the dormant, literally valueless land, especially in the rural areas into mobile economic asset that can be traded like other financial instrument.'

He urged surveyors to support the land reform agenda by providing quality services and maintaining good ethical practices.

Nwabichie noted that the goal of being one of the 20 biggest economies by 2020 cannot be achieved without a radical review of the Land Use Act.

According to him, the Act should be reviewed and amended to create easy access to land and better title and security of tenure.