LAND TENURE REFORM IN NIGERIA: IMPLICATIONS OF THE LAND USE DECREE FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
Keywords:land use decree, land tenure system, economic, socio-cultural, political reform, agricultural development
The Federal Military Government recently promulgated a Land Use Decree, which vests all the land in each state in its Military Governor. The antecedent land tenure system which the Decree purports to replace is that of communal (corporate) or group ownership, interspersed with a sprinkle of family and individual ownership system, while customary tenure system was fairly dynamic it did not adjust fast enough to accommodate change economic, social and political condition. The Land Use Decree has attempt to change the customary land tenure system by fiat. The Decree has taken over the allodial title as well as proprietary rights of various land-owing groups, reducing these to state tenants; leaving only the right to use and enjoy (the land) with the landholder.
This paper examine the antecedent land tenure system vis-vis the Land Use Decree with regards to its economic, socio-cultural, political, administrative and institutional dimension on agricultural development. It is argued in this paper that the customary land tenure system guaranteed subsistence opportunities to members of the land owing group, limited sovereignty to landholders, freedom of enterprise, economic citizenship of the land but excludes and or exploits members of the group. A gamut of economic issues, socio-cultural implications, administrative and political problem are identified and solution are proffered. It is suggested that details administrative procedure, which will facilitate implementation, guarantee egalitarianism as well as eliminate potential abuse should be worked out to avoid the Decree being a pandoras box to the ordinary citizen.
Finally, it is argued (in this paper) that merely changing tenurial system and improving access to land may not suffice to raise output substantially as people cannot work with bare hands. Other supportive services in the form of effective extension, marketing and credit facilities, and input supply system are essential to achieving rapid transformation of the countrys agriculture. The paper concluded that if properly executed with the provision of co-operant factors, the Decree is full of hope for the agricultural transformation of Nigeria.