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Registering Properties In Nigeria: A Case For Streamlining The Process


Undoubtedly, the negative effects of the complex and overburdened property perfection procedures on the economy are clearly shown, by Nigeria’s low competitiveness and poor Doing Business ranking.

As Africa’s biggest economy with about $510 billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures, Nigeria has the potential of becoming one of the world’s real estate hubs. But the inhibiting practices slowing the pace of perfection of title to properties have continued to affect adversely, the contribution of the real property sector, to the growth of the overall economy.

For instance, mortgage contribution to the GDP in Nigeria is a negligible 0.12% and this is because most people fail to comply, given the enormity of the costs associated with registering security over landed property. The costs of registering security over land in Lagos state for instance is about 2.2% of the mortgage value (to get the Deed of Legal Mortgage properly registered both at the Lands Registry and the Corporate Affairs Commission). By comparison, mortgage contributions to the economies of the US, Britain, Germany, Thailand, South Africa and Ghana are respectively; 63%, 64%, 55%, 15%, 20% and 3%. Clearly, since the costs of perfecting mortgages in those jurisdictions are relatively small, that drives compliance with the laws and regulations governing alienation of property rights related to land.

In our opinion, there is need to reform the various land registration laws across the States of the federation and streamline the rules. In this connection, the Lagos State model is commended. There is also the need to review downward some of the onerous rates and fees payable on land registration as well as the time lag for completing the processes in all the States.

Most importantly, there cannot be any real and quantifiable reform unless and until strict adherence to the streamlined is enforced and stiff sanctions laid down for none compliance. In the absence of firm and driven implementation and compliance, the new laws, regulations and guidelines only become ineffective documents and the reforms eventually fail to achieve the desired effect of improving our global ranking under the “Doing Business” parameters and our economy doesn’t get the desired boost which it desperately requires.

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