| National trends in housing-production practices |
|1. Changing shelter policies in Nigeria|
The existing basic legal and regulatory instruments on shelter in Nigeria include:
• The Land Use Decree of 1978;
• The Nigerian Town and Country Planning Ordinance No.4 of 1946 (Cap 155 of the Laws of Nigeria);
• Building regulations and bye-laws of the various previous Governments.
It is widely recognized that the above legal instruments are either obsolete and unrelated to the realities of the present-day shelter situation in Nigeria, or deficient in some significant respect.
The Land Use Decree, which is a major land-reform instrument, remains a controversial law. Nevertheless, the law is so basic to the livelihood of the majority of people that it has received unusual government protection since 1979. One point, on which both defenders and opponents of the law agree, is that the machinery of land management and administration built into the law is very cumbersome and at times counterproductive.
For this reason it does not release land speedily and adequately enough to satisfy the basic land needs of the economy, especially for housing construction. Furthermore, its cumbersome procedures are intimidating for the poor and illiterate, to whom formal access to land is very difficult. To this extent, the law has a discriminatory effect, favouring the middle and upper segments of society against the poor and underprivileged (FMW&H, 1985; Onibokun (ed.), 1985; Odimuko, 1990). Currently, efforts by Government in reviewing the decree to make it more functional as a machinery for land delivery are nearing completion through the Law Reform Commission.
One example of a law that is thoroughly obsolete is the Nigerian Town and Country Planning Ordinance 1946, (Cap. 155 of the Laws of Nigeria). As the basic regulatory planning mechanism, it is vital in the shelter sector because it controls the major part of the process of translating raw land into shelter and a living environment. The main criticisms of this law are that it does not offer sufficient participation by the relevant actors, it does not reflect modern land- use planning concepts, uses and practice, and it has not been synchronized with the provisions of the Land Use Decree of 1978. This necessitated the setting-up of a National Committee for its review. The final draft of a new Nigerian Town and Country Planning Law has since been submitted to the Government and it is hoped that it will soon be promulgated to assist in the implementation of the new National Housing Policy.
As regards the enforcement of building regulations and bye-laws, the practice over the years has been for local governments, planning and development authorities to adopt these instruments for local use. A common feature of these byelaws is the very strong similarity between them and the eighteenth century building codes and standards introduced by the early colonial administrations. These building standards do not reflect contemporary socioeconomic realities, while the machinery of building approvals is unnecessarily sluggish and fraught with malpractice. The FMW&H has caused these laws to be reviewed and updated and a draft was placed before the Government in November 1991 for approval and adoption.