Increasingly, the good sides of the crippling economic recession are unfolding and one of the areas where it is manifest is in land transaction in Lagos State where land commands high value and is equated to oil well by its owners and managers.
Because of recession, the billions of naira revenue which the state had been raking from land transactions has dropped by as high as 30 percent to between 250 and 300 applicants per month, down from 400 per months before the recession.
It is therefore, a huge opportunity for those that have bought land in the state and are yet to perfect the titles, as this period of recession has compelled the government agency which has that responsibility to consider and do business with prospective applicants.
The state’s Lands Bureau says it is experiencing a slowdown in transactions and, according to Bode Agoro, the permanent secretary in charge of the bureau, applications for governor’s consent which is the highest revenue generating arm of the bureau, has dropped significantly.
The bureau is therefore requesting people wishing to obtain their Governor’s Consent to come up with their applications, assuring that they would make the processing faster. “The only thing we can do is to speed up our processing of governor’s consent, make it quicker and more efficient and hopefully people that kept their C of O or their transactions from obtaining governor’s consent, when they hear that things are moving fast, they will come up”, Agoro said.
The processes leading to obtaining Governor’s Consent in Lagos, before now, were not only costly, but also tedious and time-wasting, but the need to generate more revenue is compelling the government to ease the process by shortening the time and making it lighter.
To further encourage land buying, the state government has come up with a property protection law, called the Land Grabbers Law which is specifically targeted at land grabbers. ‘’The law makes it an offense for someone to sell another man’s land and the average penalty is between two to 20 years imprisonment. If you see a grabber on your land, under this law, we can arrest the occupier because whoever is sitting on the land is the grabber. We have arrested many people and they have been prosecuted under the land grabber’s law, Agoro said.
Continuing, he said, “we have not done a lot of allocation this year because we are dealing with our backlogs and ensuring that they are being issued with C of O. Since the inception of his administration, the governor has signed over 5,000 C of Os and this was inherited from the previous administration. We are making sure that those that have been allocated are now being issued with their title’’, he assured.
Agoro said that the process of transacting business in the lands bureau was challenging and the best way to maximize efficiency was to go completely electronic. “No matter how structured an organisation is, if they are using manual labour, they cannot achieve optimal productivity. The governor has graciously approved what we call the integrated land administration system. It’s a system whereby all transactions on lands bureau is submitted online and processed electronically.
“We are going to have a situation whereby we guarantee titles issued by the state government. When we have this situation, we can now partner with insurance companies. We want to create a system whereby people can trade on land as if they are trading in shares. The contract has just been awarded but it’s going to take about 18 months for it to commence because we have to put so many things in place since we are starting from the scratch”, he said.
The permanent secretary also said that the issue of double allocation was now a thing of the past because they have a comprehensive database and one of the benefits of the electronic system was that it gets rid of double allocation. “Once all the information has been stored digitally. If you click on that allocation, it tells you if it’s been allocated, the size and if the person has sold the land,’’ he added.