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From time immemorial through the period of agriculture to the period
of industrial development, land has remained the most valuable property
in the life of man and his development. It is a source of wealth to
those who have it and the mother of all properties. In other words,
virtually all the basic needs of human existence are land dependent. In
view of the importance and usefulness of land to man and his development
as well as the development of his society, every person generally
desires to acquire and own a portion of land to achieve the various ends
for which the land is meant. Therefore, to make land in Nigeria
available to all and to ensure that land is acquired and put to a proper
use for the needed development, governments during and after colonial
period enacted laws to govern the use or administration of land in
Before the arrival of the colonial masters, there were customary laws which governed the administration of land in Nigeria. These customary laws varied from one locality to another because of the differences in customs of the people. This accounted for the multiplicity of land laws in Nigeria prior to the promulgation of the Land Use Act of 1978. These laws were applied in each region to regulate land in the region.
Notwithstanding the existence of laws regulating land, the problems of land tenure and land administration persisted both in the Northern and Southern Nigeria. There were new problems such as land racketeering and speculations. Exorbitant compensations were demanded by landowners whenever the government acquired land for development. Thus, acquisition of land by government or individuals was becoming almost impossible in Nigeria. In fact, one of the major factors that was said to be a stumbling block against efficient implementation of the Second Development Plan 1975-1980, was lack of land for development project. To break this barrier and monopolies of landlords, the Federal Military Government set up some panels to consider how best to solve the problems associated with land tenure and administration in Nigeria. The report of one of these panels i.e., the Land Use Panel of 1977 eventually formed the basis of the Land Use Act No. 6 of 1978.
The purpose of this essay therefore, is to critically examine the Land Use Act of 1978 to see the extent to which it has enhanced the administration of land in Nigeria. In this connection, reforms and innovations introduced by the Act to improve the administration of land are critically examined. Bearing in mind that every being has its scar, the Act is not without shortcomings. In this regard, this study further beams its search lights in figuring out the inherent problems of the Act. Finally, this work makes recommendations on how to improve the Act in view of the recent proposal by Government to review the Act.
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