Barr. Onuegbu And The Challenge Of Changing The Story Of Negative Land Administration In Imo State
Prior to the coming of the Uzodinma Administration, the clamor for effective and modernized land administration in the state reached a crescendo.
The reason for this clamor can not be far fetched, hence the appointment of a seasoned lawyer and administrator, Barr. Enyinna Onuegbu as the Commissioner for Lands, Survey, and Physical Planning heightened the people’s confidence and expectations.
It would be recalled that before the inception of this government the state witnessed a near-pristine and mercantile land administration, characterized by a few persons and a clan of avaricious land grabbers appropriating public and private lands. This culminated into a few persons holding more land titles reminiscent of the Feudal era when few lords exercised absolute ownership of land and subjected others to serfs. Only little could be cited to have been appropriately done. The chains of litigations that followed that inglorious era point to the wrongs experienced then.
Consequently, these selfish merchants started parcellating and selling such lands as booties of war without following laid down legal processes in most cases.
This led to the mushrooming of unplanned structures and estates in the state capital and its environs. This impropriety gave birth to a chaotic structural scenario, not in tandem with the well-articulated urban planning done by erudite founding fathers of the Mbakwe clout and class.
These distortions are indeed part of the challenges starring Onuegbu in the face. The challenges are very enormous and engaging, but certainly going by his pedigree the challenges would be surmounted.
The series of measures so far evolved by his ministry point to a clear understanding of these changes. A thorough assessment of the measures shows that they are effective in addressing the perceived anomalies.
The recent notice to estate developers and owners to submit to the ministry their layout plans and the written schemes of such estates are in line with the anticipated measures to sanitize the physical aberrations arising from the past arrangements.
It is totally unacceptable to have estates without being duly authorized by the ministry. The seeming lawless could only be accommodated when inexperienced persons held sway.
Proper documentation and authorization would ensure proper adherence to laid down rules to ensure that the estates do not constitute a nuisance to the environment and their occupants. In addition, it is expected that these estates are not built to deface the environmental aesthetics of the state capital. Modern estates are expected to incorporate environmentally friendly designs to promote the health of the inhabitants in line with global benchmarks on the construction of the human habitat. In fact, this important dimension eluded the state some years ago.
A new administration anchored on shared prosperity would not in any way tolerate a shabby approach to the building of estates in the state.
The right thing must be done by estate developers and owners to guard against avoidable lapses capable of creating dangers.
It is possible for estate developers to erect structures on lands earmarked for other purposes. This has made it imperative to consult the ministry early enough.
Therefore, the move by the Commissioner to ensure conformity with planning standards is neither draconian not inhibitive, but a step to endure that such structures meet the expected standards.
Indeed, Barr. Onuegbu deserves commendation in his avowed determination to change the narrative and ensure a sound land administration in the state.
Emmanuel Chukwu (FCAI, is a professional journalist and commentator on public affairs.)