Some delegates at the ongoing National Conference have vowed to resist with all vehemence, surreptitious attempt to remove the Land Use Act from the Nigerian Constitution.
They have also declared their readiness to ensure that the “draconian recommendation” by the conference committee on Land Tenure Matters and National Boundaries, does not sail through at the plenary.
Speaking on behalf of the ‘pro-poor’ delegates at the National Conference, a delegate representing Ondo State, Remi Olatubora, told newsmen in Abuja at the weekend that the poor masses of Nigeria would further be pauperised if the Land Use Act is eventually removed from the Constitution.
Olatubora, who is also the leader of Ondo State delegates to the conference, said that the recommendation of the committee is against the poor masses of this country; “it is a coup against the poor masses of this country and we must all stand against it”.
According to him, the recommendation was a decoy for the few rich persons in Nigeria to take over the entire land space and make the poor owners of land their labour ears.
“The only way the poor masses of this country could have access to land is that the land title has been statutorily vested on the State Governors who are the trustees in each state of the Federation. This made it easier for individuals to acquire land through the Governors.
“One important thing is that the Land Use Act limits the quantum of land that any individual can hold in any state of the Federal Republic of Nigeria per time. If not because of the control the Land Use Act imposes on the quantum of land any individuals can purchase, the few rich people of this country would have bought the entire land belonging to Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, it is only few us that are speaking for the poor people of this country in the conference. The conference is made up mostly of bourgeoisies but the few of us representing the poor masses of the country were able to cause a stalemate on the debate last week.
“I know about few individuals that can buy the entire land space in Nigeria from Niger Republic to Atlantic Ocean, and Benin Republic to Cameroon. These few individuals can buy everything and drive the entire masses of this country to the Atlantic Ocean. We don’t want that one to happen.
“We are against the removal of the Land Use Act from the Constitution. I think, for anybody to remove it, is a coup against the masses of our people. The few rich people should know that the poor masses of this country are angry and we should not cause more anger in them by trying to inflict more injury into their psyche and their well-being by taking away from them the right that the Constitution has guaranteed for them.
He warned that if the recommendation eventually sails through at the conference, the few delegates speaking for the poor people at that conference and in the country would rise against the parliament and the President to drop the draconian recommendation.
“There will be mass campaign against it such that that recommendation will never see the light of the day in this country. Whatever is not in favour of the poor masses in this country at that conference is nullity”.
He added that “Those working for the expulsion of the Land Use Act from the Constitution, are individuals who are doing commercial farming in America and want to come and take over the entire land space in Nigeria for their mechanized farming.
“The poor indigenous owners of the land will become labourers in their farms in the next five, six years if that particular recommendation is allowed to pass. This would certainly exaggerate the insecurity in Nigeria and make more serious than it is now if Nigerians do not rise against this harsh recommendation.
Debate on the recommendation by the committee to expunge Land Use Act from the Constitution caused serious uproar at plenary last Thursday, thus forced the leadership of the conference to adjourn abruptly to Monday.
While some delegates applauded the recommendation, others condemned the report of the Committee, arguing that some of the recommendations were not implementable as they were drafted to favour certain classes of people or ethnic groups against the others.
The committee, headed by General A. B. Mamman with Oba Michael Adedeji as deputy, viewed the controversial Land Use Act as an attempt at codification of all laws in Nigeria pertaining to land administration.
It said before the Act came into effect, land belonged to specific owners or group of owners, families, or communities that could alienate, sell and dispose same without the requirement of obtaining any authorization or ratification by the state government.
The committee noted that the original land tenure systems, in which the community exercised management and control powers, guaranteed that community members have access to land for farming and habitation and other economic activities.