Only three out of every ten households that own land or any form of real estate in Nigeria can use it for wealth creation.
What I mean is that most Nigerians that own the homes they live in, factories they’ve built or schools they’ve developed can’t prove their ownership. As a result, they cannot sell, gift or use these same assets to take out bank loans for further development, at least not legally.
The simple reason for this is that they don’t have the titles (documents that prove ownership) of these properties. This is either because they are ignorant or because the processes involved in getting the required documents (governor’s consent) have frustrated them.
We will get to the processes in a bit, but don’t take my word for it. The statistics for land title ownership show how bad things are. The Nigeria Living Standards Survey, a report on Nigerian households compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics and the World Bank, shows that over 71% of Nigerian households who own homes don’t have certificates of occupancy.
Instead, as Feyi Fawehinmi, author and public commentator on Nigeria’s economic and political affairs, aptly explained in his piece on land reforms, Nigerians would rather protect their properties by painting “beware, this house is not for sale” on their fences.
Not only is this sad, but it is also infuriating because land is a crucial building block of the economy, especially for an economy like Nigeria, struggling with an average growth rate of 3% a year. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), about $900 billion, 2x Nigeria's GDP, can flow into the economy if we get our land reforms right. The PwC report claims that the real estate market alone holds between $230 billion and $750 billion of value that’s locked up.
So how can we unblock land for wealth