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By 2030, it is expected that over 4.6 billion people will reside in metropolitan areas around the world. In Nigeria, urban areas currently house 48% of the population. Low-income people are undoubtedly the most vulnerable when it comes to obtaining land for houses.

This is because they frequently lack a regular income and savings to meet the requirements for formal land purchase and possession.
More than 40% of the people in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State, lives in poverty. It has even surpassed 50% in certain of the city’s districts. This poor population’s battle for shelter has presented itself in a variety of forms, ranging from living in dangerous tenement compounds to multi-purpose businesses (business and dwelling).

Among the president’s seven points is a suggestion to modify Nigerian land tenure legislation (the Land Use Act, which vests in the governor of a state ownership of all lands).

Section 5 of the act, which enabled the governor to issue rights (in leasehold), demand and revise rents on such properties, and also powers to totally or partially waive the limitations related to the acquisition of rights in certain circumstances, is one of the provisions recommended for revision.

This article attempts to demonstrate that Section 5 of the existing land tenure law and the current compensation mechanisms have the ability to improve low-income access to property.

Instead of the traditional reactive approach to informality, the paper proposed using community-driven land tenure systems in conjunction with the provisions of Section 5 of the Land Use Act and the existing land acquisition and compensation process as a proactive approach to foster positive urban development.

This will also protect low-income individuals from potential market temptations. Furthermore, the role and capacities of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) in this regard should be promoted, as NGOs appeared to be the bridge between low-income communities, landowners, and policymakers in all of the reviewed cases.



Cities and towns currently house the vast majority of the world’s population. Over 4.6 billion people will live in cities by 2030 (Wish 2009). Access to secure shelter is a prerequisite for this urban population’s access to other benefits such as job possibilities, public services, and credit (Payne 2002).

Tenure is thus the foundation upon which every endeavour to enhance the poor’s living conditions must be constructed. However, there are some counter-arguments to this: Recent assessments of urban tenure policy indicate that titling has failed to meet its goals and is of questionable benefit to the poor (Angel 2001 and Fernandes 2001, in Payne 2002 (9).

Similarly, according to Oswald (1999), the higher a country’s degree of property ownership, the higher its level of unemployment. Oswald mentioned Switzerland as having the lowest rate of home ownership in the industrialised world and only 1% unemployment, whereas in Spain, 80% of the population owns their homes and there is a 13% jobless rate.

Oswald came to the conclusion that high levels of home ownership limit labour market mobility and so raise unemployment. The subject is not simply defined or given in accordance with commonly accepted rules.

This is due to the fact that tenure has several historical, cultural, legal, and economic connotations that influence people’s perceptions and behaviours.

In 2008, urban regions housed 48% of Nigeria’s population. In 2007, Nigeria was placed 158th out of 177 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Poverty Index. The proportion of people living in relative poverty fell from 65.6% in 1996 to 54.4% in 2004 (UNDP 2007).

However, according to UN Habitat, Nigeria’s poverty rate has risen to 76% in 2009 (This Day 2009). Similarly, about 77% of Nigerian city dwellers live in urban slums, while 99% of the problems intended to be addressed under the MDG are concentrated in urban settlements.

People living in poverty are frequently the most susceptible in terms of land access. This is because they typically lack a consistent source of income and savings to apply for credit and meet the demanding building rules and other conditions required for formal land purchase and occupation (Smolka and Damasio 2005).


More over 40% of the population in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State lives below the poverty line, which is similar to the national figure (URP 2008). It has even surpassed 50% in some districts (Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State district).

This poor population’s battle for shelter has presented itself in a variety of forms, ranging from living in dangerous tenement compounds to multi-purpose businesses (business and dwelling).

Under the president’s 7-point Agenda, the federal government of Nigeria proposed amendments to the 1978 Land Use Act in 2008. Among the proposed amendments to the Act is Section 5, which vests all land in the state in the governor of that state and gives the governor the authority to issue statutory rights (in leasehold), demand, and revise rents on such properties.

According to the idea, the governor’s authority should be decreased. However, given the small sums required to acquire land for development, same abilities might be used to provide access to land, particularly to low-income people.

Land reform, according to Uwakonye and Osho (2007), is concerned with changing the institutional structure governing man’s relationship with the land, involving intervention in the prevailing pattern of land ownership, control, and usage in order to change the structure of holdings, improve land productivity, and broaden the distribution of benefits.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the existing coping strategies of low income people in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State for gaining access to land and to investigate how the governor’s powers under Nigeria’s land tenure law (the Land Use Act) could be used to improve low income people’s access to land. The emphasis will be on Section 5, which gives an opportunity within the existing legislation to improve access to land for low-income people.

1.2 AIM

To investigate the various tenure arrangements used by low-income inhabitants of Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State, to get access to land. This is done in order to increase the profile of understanding in order to encourage supporting policy intervention.


To examine the issue of land tenure in developing countries, as well as low-income populations’ access to land.
To investigate Nigeria’s land tenure arrangement prior to the Land Use Act.
To describe the current practise of land administration in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State, and to investigate the governor’s authority under the Land Use Act as a tool for providing low-income people with access to land.
To propose solutions to improve the existing quo based on the lessons learnt from reviewed case studies.


According to studies, the effect of laws has historically proven to be restricting to the informal sector, which serves as a medium of access to land not just for low-income people but also for the majority of the population (Acioly 2007). Similarly, while most spatial planners portray themselves as advocates for social and environmental issues, they frequently overlook the relationship between the poor and the land.

Is it sufficient, for example, to create room for social housing? Although housing is crucial for the poor, Davy (2009) claimed that the current global debate on poverty and property includes the vulnerability of land uses by the poor. As a result, the study is pertinent in light of the present global discourse on poverty and property, as well as the growing understanding of its relationship to land laws, particularly in the developing world.

A number of developing countries have identified the need for reform efforts to address the special interests of low-income people. Examples include South Africa and the Philippines.


To provide the basis for debate, existing literature on land tenure systems will be studied. The study will also make use of current empirical data on the present land administration procedures in Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State, as well as the varied tenure arrangements that exist in the city’s numerous districts.

The city is separated into five administrative districts (Mgbidi, Oru West LGA, Imo State city, Tudun wada, Sabon gari, GRA, and Samaru) for data gathering ease and in response to their varying socioeconomic features.

The debate would progress from broad to specific, comparing the obvious qualities to potential explaining elements in descriptive terms.

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