1.1 Background to the Study

Land is the basis for every form of physical development and constitutes the Primary medium for shelter and food production, for the provision of sheets and utilities, for the manufacture of goods and the establishment of institutions to support the basic needs of modern communities (Lanus and Olufemi, 2006). Hence, it’s the builder’s most important asset and plays essential role in increasing as well as sustaining the housing development. (Ukaejiofor, 2009) noted that land at the heart of social, political and economic life of the most African countries. He stressed further that, it is the key factor for economic growth and development of every nation and the foundation for shelter in the urban areas as well as the source of livelihood in the rural areas. Therefore, it is an indisputable source of employment and wealth (Idoma and Muhammed, 2014). However, ownership of land often interferes with its use as housing asset. The right of people to own, use and control land and its resources are known as Land Use Act.

Land use regulations and controls are used to restrict the rights of private land holders in the use of land. The regulations are used to protect public interest in the use of private land. The regulations stem from the need to provide public amenities, to increase the efficiency of land-use, to limit urban sprawl and unnecessary encroachment on agricultural land, and to achieve economies of scale and least-cost production of public services (Courtney, 1983). The regulations are also used to ensure the availability of land to all groups, and to ensure that the benefits of development go to the community as a whole.

Several controversies that were created by the Act have been well documented in different reactions and write-ups. Mabogunje (2007; 2011) and Aluko (2007; 2009; 2010) dealt excessively on the sorry state of affairs about the housing situations in Nigeria in general and how it could be sustained. Since one of the major areas of the Act is to control future uses and open new land for the needs of Nigeria’s growing population especially in urban areas, yet there is still the outcry of the people to affordable housing provision. In Delta State for example, the municipalities (local governments) have no say in the issue of Certificate of Occupancy as all lands in the State has been declared urban and are all under the control of the governor. Whereas in the commencement of the Land Use Act 1978 No. 6 on 29th March, 1978, it was stated that “whereas it is in the public interest that the rights of all Nigerians to the land of Nigeria be asserted and preserved by law”. And that all lands comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of the State. The Act also provides that “all land in urban areas shall be under the control and management of the Governor of each State”.

Housing plays a very important role in human society. It has tremendous social and economic impact on the total living environment of the world. It’s direct and immediate influence on health, education, economy, environment, political and social life of any society cannot be overemphasized (Mantell, 2015). In recent decades, there has been an increasing emphasis on the housing sector by different governments of the developing countries. Yet the adequate provision of this basic need eludes a high proportion of the population of (these countries) (Midgley, 2005). Although rural housing conditions are generally far from satisfactory, the problem attains its most acute proportion in the urban centres of the less Developed Countries (LCDs). A number of factors account for this, including the accelerated rate of urbanization since 1950, occasioned primarily by rural-urban migration and secondly by natural increases within the urban centres themselves, non-renewal of dilapidated structures, poor facilities in existing houses, poor environmental conditions of dwellings and insufficient supply of new housing units (Auchazi, 2015).

Aroni (2012) pointed out that Shortage of housing is a problem which has become an enduring feature of the urbanization process in developing countries and it appears to raise increasing alarm, particularly from urban administrators and policy makers. This situation is due, not only to the high birth rates that swell urban numbers but the rural poor flow into the metropolitan areas in search of better jobs and other facilities. Dwyer (2015) argues that today’s urban problems are reaching such dimensions on the world scale as to place them third in importance to the threat of nuclear warfare and famine.

Housing of course is not the only urban problems as urban areas everywhere suffer a variety of housing, hygienic and management problem including housing inadequacy and congestion, limited water supplies and sanitation; inadequate social services; poor land management etcetera, but housing problem is clearly in the burgeoning cities of the Third World (Charles, 2014). Traditionally, housing problems have been addressed from limited view point such as site selection and construction. Modern urban studies now extend such analysis to the areas of hygiene, infrastructural facilities and management. Even the increasing allocation of funds for the housing sector in the already strained economy are unable to cope with pace outside the institutionalized housing to attempt to solve the housing problem as it demands pooling of all the available resources and concerted efforts by all (Dwyer (2015).

In Nigeria especially in Delta State, the housing problem is becoming increasingly desperate as the average citizen lives in what could hardly be described as decent housing condition (Mabogunje, 1980). The situation highlighted above describes the daily living condition of millions of Nigerians either in the rural or urban areas. The sad thing note here is that the situation is not the same everywhere. It is basically different in more privileged areas occupied by highly placed public servants and private employees as well as the “well to-do” in the Nigerian society (Gree, 2011).

From the above it obvious that a lot of studies, have mainly focused on effective, sustainable and quality housing delivery across the globe and Nigeria in particular, but none has taken time to look at its attendant problems caused by Land Use Act. It is against this background that this study is carried out to the effect of Land Use Act on sustainable housing development in Nigeria particularly in Delta State.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

It has been discovered over the decades that there has been numerous problems encountered in acquisition of land and subsequently in obtaining the approval of certificate of occupancy and property development in Nigeria (Oduniyi, 1981). In the commencement of the Land Use Act 1978, it was stated that whereas it is in the public interest that the rights of all Nigerians to the land of Nigeria be asserted and preserved by law (Chigbu, 2016).

Nigeria like other developing countries has been witnessing “Urban explosion” since the past four decades, and a number of environmental problems associated with urbanization have arisen (Atubi and Oriero, 2002; 2006). This rapid urbanization has not only deteriorated the natural environment, but also posed serious problem to quality housing delivery in urban areas. Over the years, the attendant problems of rapid population expansion and uncontrollable rate of urbanization of most Nigerian cities called for increased utilization of consultancy services (Abotutu, 2006)

The concern of the researcher in this study is not really to criticize the Act but to carry-out an in-depth evaluation of how it has achieved its aim in the mass provision of housing to the people. However the hope of the Nigerian masses lies in the Act with the current wave of high cost of acquisition of land. It should be noted that one of the cogent reasons why the Act came into existence was because of the nature of trusteeship of land in the past (Oduniyi, 1981). It was difficult for anyone to get access to land. It is important for the researcher to examine if the Act has made it easy for Nigerians to get land for housing development. Ownership of a house starts from the acquisition of a piece of land. That is to say the intending house owner must first of all have access to land. In urban areas access to land is not quite easy and that is why one of the objectives of the Land Use Act is to ensure that land is made available promptly to all those who need it in the interest of the economy (Tobi, 1997). Having regards to the fact that housing is one of the best indicators of a person’s standard of living and of his place in the society, it also serves as a place in which man seeks shelter, comfort, security and dignity among other things, it is important to examine the effect of Land Use Act on sustainable housing development in Nigeria especially in Delta State.

Today, if you buy land in Nigeria and you do not have the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) from the government, it is not yours, all you have is a lease, that is, you never have a freehold. You cannot even have access to any loan or do anything tangible if you do not have fund of your own, not even the National Housing Fund which was set up by the government to render such assistance (Udo, 1990). Yet the Certificate of Occupancy is even more difficult than getting the land itself. All efforts by some State Governments especially the Delta State government to ease the procedure and collection have been described as mere gimmicks. We have heard series of cases where Governors wield their powers to revoke legally acquired rights of occupancy in the interest of the public, whereas it was obvious that they were done on political reasons especially against oppositions (Lasun and Olufemi, 2006). The former President of the federation who the author of the Act when it was promulgated during his first military administration had to reassure Nigerians on 26th of September 2001 in Abuja that “no government owns land” and that “land belongs to the people”. This statement was made when he was condemning the excesses of the Governors. As stated above, since it is a known philosophy that laws are made by men for men and are operated, implemented and enforced by human beings through various legal institutions, the focus of this study is how the Act has affected sustainable housing development schemes in Nigeria (Lasun and Olufemi, 2006).

Other problems of Land Use Act and hence housing problems that informs the relocation of the some indigenes out of Delta State include the difficulty of the Delta State Government in getting Federal Government establishments to comply with Land Use Act, housing and town planning regulations which contributed significantly to the poor planning system of most cities in Delta State; the city congestion in Delta State makes life extremely difficult for the inhabitant and visitors from within and outside the country who had business to transact therein and drainage has been a problem of immense magnitude (Madhu, 2012; Martin, 2012; Mantell, 2015; Manuel, 2008; Mrgee, 2007; Midgley, 2005; Mitchell, 2007).

Therefore, this study critically re-examined in-depth the motives behind the act vis-a-vis the present realities and the implication on housing provision and property development; evaluate the achievements realized so far in terms of implementation since the promulgation of the act and ways to facilitate and sustain housing delivery; and review the areas of bottlenecks and suggest possible ways of ameliorating the identified problems.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study is to examine the effect of Land Use Act on sustainable housing development in Delta State.The following are the objectives of this study:

to assess the impact of Land Use Acts on sustainable housing development in Delta State.
to investigate the influence of Land Use Act on access to land by Nigerians.
to identify the factors limiting sustainable housing development in Nigeria particularly in Delta State.
to examine the ease of accessing land for housing development in Delta State.
to identify constraints associated with accessing land for housing development in Delta State.
to recommend strategies necessary for sustainable housing development in Delta State.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions will be answered in this study;

What are the impacts of Land Use Acts on sustainable housing development in Delta State?
How does Land Use Act influence access to land by Nigerians?
What are the factors limiting sustainable housing development in Nigeria particularly in Delta State?
How does the ease of accessing land enhance sustainable housing development in Delta State?
What are the constraints associated with accessing land for housing development in Delta State?
What are the strategies necessary for sustainable housing development in Delta State?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses stated in the null form were be tested in this study;

H01: Housing development in Delta State is not significantly influenced by access to land.

H02: The operation of the Land Use Act has no significant impact on housing development in Delta State.

1.6 Research Methods

Research method is the procedure or step adopted in carrying out a research. It involves the procedural technique followed during data collection. This will be discussed under the following sub-headings;

1.6.1 Method of Data Collection

The data for this study were obtained from two sources. The first which is the primary source involve reconnaissance survey, administration of questionnaire and oral interview which were carried out to augment the secondary data. The secondary source of information involved collection of secondary materials already existing which are in the form of maps, journal, magazine, articles, newspapers, internet, published and unpublished texts.

1.6.2 Instrument Administration

One hindered and fifty (150) questionnaires were administered to the people of Delta State. The questionnaire was the main research instrument used for the study and was designed and structured to elicit information on the effect of Land Use Act on sustainable housing development in Delta State. The questionnaires were administered to respondents by hand to ensure quick response and easy retrieval. The respondents were approached in a friendly manner.

The questionnaire comprised of two (2) different sections which were used to obtain information for this study. The first section of the questionnaire was based solely on the respondents’ personal information. The second section of the questionnaire dealt with the effect of Land Use Act on sustainable housing development in Delta State.

The researcher adopted the existing three senatorial districts in the state to administer questionnaire, that is; two settlements/cities were chosen from each senatorial district. These selected cities/towns are mentioned below;

Delta South Senatorial District: Patani and Ozoro

Delta North Senatorial District: Agbor and Asaba

Delta Central Senatorial District: Ughelli and Warri

The settlement/cities mentioned above were chosen out of the existing three senatorial districts in Delta State because preliminary field survey indicated that the problem of housing development was serious in the areas where there is no spatial arrangement of settlements and also in areas where settlements and buildings were built on clustered streets. Those areas and settlements that are seriously affected by poor housing structure were indentified and randomly selected, for the purpose of field survey and easy administration of questionnaires. In each of these zones/areas, twenty-five (25) questionnaires were administered using the systematic techniques.

1.6.3 Method of Data Analysis

The data collected in this study with the aid of research questionnaire were analyzed using the descriptive and inferential statistical technique. The descriptive statistical techniques involved the use of tables, percentages, and simple statistical charts, such as the bar chart and histogram, etc, while the Person’s Product Moment Correlation Co-efficient (PPMCC) was used to test if truly there exist a significant relationship between the dependent and independent variables and the hypotheses earlier formulated in this research work.

The Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Co-efficient was used because it is a parametric statistical tool, which deals with interval variables, each of which is normally and uniformly distributed.

As used by Erudjakpor and Atubi (2006), the Pearson’s product Moment Correlation co-efficient (PPMCC) is presented below;

r = n(∑xy) – (∑x) (∑y)

n(∑x2) – (∑x)2 x n(∑y2) – (∑y)2


r = Correlation co-efficient

x = Dependent variable

y = Independent variable

n = Number of samples


The study area (Delta State) is located in the South-South Geo-political zone of Nigeria.

1.7.1 Location and Size

Delta State is located in the southern part of the Niger Delta region in Nigeria (see Fig 1 and 2). Delta State lies approximately within latitude 050001N and 060 301Nof the equator and longitude 050001E and 050 451N of the Greenwich meridian. It is bounded by Edo State in the North, Bayelsa State in the South-East, Anambra State in the East and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Delta State has experienced rapid increase in size over the years, due to the presence of various tourist sites such as the River Ethiope Source, shrine, hotels, bars, beach and restaurant. This attracts people from surrounding area, to the State, because of its tourist attraction thus resulting to the rapid development of the area. The Study area covers an area of 1,920km2.




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