Institutional support imperative for Nigeria’s economic reforms agenda, says Enemark

Institutional support imperative for Nigeria’s economic reforms agenda, says Enemark

Professor Stig Enemark is the President of Denmark-based International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), a Professional Organization founded since 1878 in Paris as Federation Internationals des Geometre” (FIG), and represented in over 100 countries worldwide. Enemark visited Nigeria recently as the Guest Speaker at the Nigeria Institute of Surveyors (NIS) 17th yearly Olumide Memorial Lecture, where he delivered a paper on “Land Governance: Supporting the global agenda. Before his departure, he had an interview and spoke on professionalism, land governance and economic development, among others. Excerpts.

What’s a surveyor’s role in a country’s economic development?
The surveyor’s role is two. One is that you serve t he client as necessary. But the real role is to serve society. Surveyors know the issues about land. And they have the responsibility to advise the politicians on developing the right policies and taking right decisions on dealing with land issues. That’s very serious responsibility. And the more you demonstrate your commitment in this area to the politician, the higher the standing you have.

One of the key issues in Nigerian government’s seven-point agenda is land reform. Is there a role FIG could play in this regard? FIG could support the efforts to our member associations, like the NIS. But FIG will not dream of intervening in the politics of Nigeria. You will decide on your land policies, but we will support the efforts of our member associations. And if they ask for it, we will help. For instance, in designing the key steps to be undertaken to develop a comprehensive land reform policy.

FIG is actually a community of experts. So, we could call our experts from various countries that have experience and expertise in this area that could contribute to the problems or the issues that you are dealing with in Nigeria. But, we will never dream of interfering in the politics of our member countries.

Let’s take a global perspective now. What’s the role surveyors in the global pursuit of Millenniums Development Goals (MDGs)? To me, it’s about partnership. If we look at the MDGs, the eight goals are actually about partnership for global development. We have a responsibility there, to engage in this partnership, especially with agencies like the food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), United Nations Habitat (UN HABITAT) and the World Bank. On this issue, we are the experts, and we are recognized as the leading global experts in the area of land tenure, land use, land value and land development.

So, the UN is looking up to FIG for support in developing a global agenda in the area of land governance. And that’s why we organized this big conference with the World Bank in March this year, where we invited 200 experts from all over the world to address the issue of land governance.

So, we try to push and develop the goal agenda and also try to pick specific issues. Because we are the experts in this area, we have a responsibility to contribute to this and try to establish the basic condition for the poorest people, to improve their living condition. That’s our role.

As an authority in land governance, what can Nigeria learn from Denmark? This is a tricky question! Eh. It is important to understand that there is no way you can just transfer a system like we have in Denmark to work in a country like Nigeria. You have to take into account the culture, the history and the whole development in this country.

And then you can learn from how systems are organized in other countries and their culture and history and then establish what is trustable and suitable to your needs. This is the only way forward. You never look at transferring the system of one country to another sure, I agree. But, you can learn from another country. For instance, you can learn from maritime governance in Denmark.

Yeah, land administration includes marine resources. So, there should be a seamless connection between land and the sea. In many countries actually, there is much more value connected to the marine areas than the land. Yes, marine administration is quite important Okay, what’s your assessment of Nigeria on land governance?

I shouldn’t lecture you too much on land governance in Nigeria, because you should know better. But, I would say that this topic is crucial to Nigeria. And this is because the history and the way you have organized the relation between people and land, such that at a certain time the government took over all land in trust as I understand it. And you have a free hold, which is in fact, leasehold. That is what obtains here.

But in most countries, you are able to have full free hold. I understand that you tried in the 70s or so and passed a law on land use. In principle too, there were attempts on land reforms. But, obviously, you did not establish the institutions that could deal with policies laid down in the law.

So, the option of getting secured titles or secured tenures may be too cumbersome. It’s all about establishing the right institutions to deal with this, so that the whole set-up within the land administration area becomes trustable to citizens. Otherwise, they will just find other ways to do these things. And you may have focused too much on the urban areas and somehow neglecting the rural areas.

So, huge areas in Nigeria are still not being covered in a sense by this attempt at land reform. And I understand that that’s part of what you want to turn around now with the seven-point agenda you have adopted. To me, it actually looks very, very promising. And whatever FIG can do to support these efforts in Nigeria, we will be happy to do. But it has to come from you. You also harped on a paradigm shift that the surveying profession has moved from land measurement to land management.
This is a global thing. And if you don’t adapt to that swing, you may simply be out of business. It doesn’t mean that measurement is not important. It is just that technology has now developed to a stage that an average person can just undertake surveying. Satellite, space technology etc have replaced the previous rigorous demands of surveying. You no longer need to climb the mountains to practice astronomy.

So, today’s surveyor has to shape up, improve capacity and be pro-active. In your capacity as FIG president, can you set an agenda for NIS for the next couple of years? I think it is important for the institute to increase members’ awareness and build and strengthen the profession so that they are pro-active rather than reacting to whatever happens. That is in fact the model that any professional association should follow. But I am sorry to say that it is not all of them that actual do this. So, again you are a little bit of role model.

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