Nigeria News
‘National conference has reinforced Nigeria’s unity’

Former Lands and Housing Minister, Chief Nduese Essien, said in Abuja yesterday that the just-concluded National Conference has reinforced the potential for Nigerians to live together and solve their problems despite areas of disagreement.

Essien, who was a delegate to the confab, told Vanguard in an interview that the ability of the members to agree on a wide range of issues that had been bothering the nation was an indication that Nigerians were more united on various national issues than assumed by the outside world.

The former leader of the South-South Caucus in the National Assembly noted that adoption of a wide range of recommendations by the conference would also go a long way in resolving intractable national challenges and give Nigerians a new lease of life.

The former minister said: “The outcome of the national conference clearly shows that Nigeria has the potential to remain strong, united and developed because all the cries and tumours that had erupted at different times before the conference all collapsed in one day when we agreed that the status quo should remain and we continued.

“And you also find out that the recommendations of the conference covered a lot of areas that if implemented would bring about a prosperous nation and make Nigeria the envy of other nations.

Essien explained that one of the decisions taken by the conference would make it possible for the Federal Cabinet to be made of people from the national assembly and from outside to give a good blend and make ministers responsible to the NASS so as to reduce the usual friction between the lawmakers and the executive.

He however regretted the inability of members to agree on the abrogation of the controversial Land Use Act of 1976, which he noted has stifled housing development in the country.

According to him, the existence of the land law has served more as a stumbling block to the acquisition of land by housing investors and other industrialists while encouraging more of land speculation, which it was actually meant to eliminate.

The former minister opined that for the housing deficit in Nigeria to be reduced, the Federal Government must begin to make land readily available to local and foreign housing investors, who have the resources to build houses in the country.

Essien also asked the Federal Government to harness the huge pension funds being tied down by certain government agencies for massive housing development which can easily pay back the money with interests.

He said: “The land use Act should be expunged from the constitution while land should be returned to the original owners so that whoever wants to make use of land for any development project should go to the owners directly.

“This idea of bringing all the lands under the control of the government has not paid off. It has not served any objectives that it was meant to serve. The land use act was intended to make land available to those who needed it for development but we have seen that available land is only made available to those who are close to the corridors of power. It is not available to farmers and industrialists because the process of getting land titles is a very tedious one,” Essien lamented.

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