New Land Policy Boosts Revenue In Delta

The Delta State Government is already counting the gains of its new Fastrack initiative launched in December last year. Fasttrack is an Electronic Land Management System that enables the state government to issue Certificates of Occupancy, C of O within 90 days and at a reduced cost. The state governor, Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, a medical doctor, and senator, says Fasttrack has started to yield results with the state government issuing more than 7, 000 Certificates of Occupancy, and consent under the scheme. To consolidate on the gains of the scheme, the governor has inaugurated a committee on the collection of ground rent with a view to streamlining land administration. 
Okowa said it had become necessary for the government to constitute a committee that would ensure timely resolution of all issues pertaining to ground rent administration in the state “in our quest to streamline land administration for efficiency, proper documentation and value addition”. He also emphasized that payment of ground rent was mandatory, “without which the perfection of a land document is not complete”. 
Ifeanyi Okowa photo

Ifeanyi Okowa

He said the committee would ensure that all landowners fulfill their obligations to the state government by paying ground rent and make the process as seamless and painless as possible.  For a start, the governor said all residential land owners would be assessed for only two years as against the six years required by law. This, he said, is to reduce the burden on an already burdened citizenry grappling with the pains of an economy in recession.
The mandate of the committee, according to Okowa “is to advise on policy formulation for ground rent management; implement a collection of ground rent, including making claims on behalf of government and investigating counter-claims by land title holders; have the authority to investigate and where possible, query title status of large assets occupiers”. It is also charged with the collation of information on every land asset occupier in the state, whether titled or untitled; as well as to take action on any and every other issue incidental to the foregoing terms of reference after clearing with relevant authorities. To those who may raise eye-brows, the governor made it clear that the payment of ground rent is as old as land law in Nigeria, explaining that it is the rent paid under the terms of a lease by the owner of the land.
 
Responding on behalf of other members, David Edevbie said they felt honoured to be appointed members of the high-powered committee. Edevbie said it showed the seriousness of the job at hand and promised that they would be firm and fair in doing their job.
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