So, what are the problems of land tenure system in Nigeria, the different types practiced, their advantages and possible solutions to the problems? Land tenure system refers to the manner in which a party occupies or holds a portion of land. Laws that govern and regulate land ownership in the country is formulated by society. This system defines the methods by which land is distributed, acquired, exploited and managed.

This system defines the rights, obligations, duties as well as privileges of individuals with respect to land. Land tenure systems can very complex which is why in Nigeria, different types of land tenure systems are recognized. This division into types helps to further clarify the types of rights a person can hold over land depending on the rules of the tenure system being operated over that particular piece of land. Each land tenure system has its own advantages as well as disadvantages.

Problems Of Land Tenure System In Nigeria, Types & Solutions

Types Of Land Tenure System In Nigeria

  • Communal Land Tenure System
  • Individual Land Tenure System
  • Inheritance Tenure System
  • Leasehold Tenure System
  • Gift T.S.
  • Rent T.S.
  • Purchase Or Freehold T.S.
  • Tenant At Government Will T.S.

Land Tenure System In Nigeria And Their Advantages


In this tenure system, the land belongs to the community. The overall authority over land under this system is the community head. He decides who does what with any portion of land under his rule. 


  • Every member of the community is considered a landowner as they all have a joint stake in the land.
  • As a member of the community, usually, you are not required to make extra payments if you wish to acquire land for personal use.


  • Under this system, it is quite easy for some members of society to be excluded from land ownership because of sometimes very ridiculous reasons. 
  • The system only allows land to be used only for farming 
  • If a landowner wants to upgrade to mechanized farming, he has to seek and get the approval of the entire community before doing so. 
  • Land previously allocated may be revoked at short notice if a new leader emerges.
  • The entire landmass is shared amongst members of the community which implies that the size of allotted land depends on the size of the community
  • Under this system, single women are not allocated land
  • Usually, only members of the community are allocated land. 

Land Tenure System In Nigeria


Under this system, the land is owned and controlled by an individual.


  • This system throws open land ownership as every person can acquire any portion of land depending on his or her financial capability.
  • The landowner can do as he or she pleases with the land
  • Any crop can be cultivated under any farming system at the discretion of the landowner.
  • The land can be used by the landowner for loan collateral if it the need arises. 


  • Under this system, the land is sold to the highest bidder which makes it possible for the rich to acquire a large expanse of land. 


This system stipulates that land ownership is transferred after the death of the main owner.


  • Land gotten as inheritance is most available to farmers
  • Farmers can cultivate plants such as cocoa, oil palm, etc on such land with any accompanying issues. 


  • This system leads to land fragmentation if there are several legal beneficiaries.
  • Land available under this system is not often sufficient for a landowner to engage in commercial agriculture
  • Disputes over land ownership often arise under this system oftentimes leading to difficulty in identifying the real owner of the land. 
  • Usually, women are not beneficiaries of land under this system 



This system conveys temporary ownership to an individual after he/she must have reached some agreement with the real landowner for him/her to take possession of the land for an agreed period of time.


  • The land can be used for planting long-term crops
  • A leasehold can be considered a personal property so the tenant can use the bland as he/she pleases


  • The farmer is limited by terms agreed in the leasehold document 
  • The land is not acceptable as security for obtaining loans.



Under this system of land tenure, a landowner can decide to voluntarily transfer his/her rights of ownership to another individual for free. 


  • All ownership rights for the use of that land is transferred to the new owner.
  • The transfer is irreversible.
  • The new owner can do as he/she pleases with the land
  • Land acquired under this tenure system qualifies for use as loan security.


  • A gift tenure land ownership can be revoked or challenged by a competent law court.
  • If the land is given out by the government and not backed by proper documentation, it can be revoked. 


Rent Tenure System

A rent tenure is similar to a leasehold only that the duration of time that the temporary owner takes possession of the land is shorter.


  • It is suitable for growing food crops
  • The farmer can enjoy maximum use of the land during the period of rent.


  • The landlord reserves the right to revoke the tenancy once the rent period expires and it is not renewed. 
  • It is not suitable for long-term planning. 
  • The land cannot be used as collateral for obtaining a loan from financial institutions.



This system allows an individual to take over possession of land by paying an amount of money for the piece of land.


  • Absolute right and control belong to the owner
  • The land can be used as a collateral 
  • The land is available to everyone regardless of sex under this system 
  • The land can be used for the maximum satisfaction of the owner. 


  • Land ownership through purchase or freehold is becoming increasingly expensive. 
  • Often times farmers are out-priced from owning land under this system 
  • Farmers may be easily duped by fake land sales agents
  • Mechanized farming maybe is impossible on small landholdings. 



Under this system, it is the government that gives out land to farmers.


  • The land is accessible to all farmers
  • It is suitable for large-scale food growing programs
  • The land is very cheap to acquire

Problems Of Land Tenure System In Nigeria


  • Land can be revoked if the tenant fails to meet the requirements of the government 
  • Usually, there are too many regulations and control from the government 
  • The land is not acceptable as collateral for the loan.
  • Permanent crops cannot be cultivated on such land


The very many problems associated with land tenure systems have resulted in several systems aimed at addressing issues associated with older land tenure systems. However, it will be observed from the previous paragraphs above that none of the current land tenure systems being practiced in Nigeria is without flaws. 

The best way to address land tenure issues is through appropriate legislation known as land reform. Land reform generally involves changing existing laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. It may be a government-initiated or government-backed move aimed at redistributing land. It may also be an outright transfer of ownership of land from citizens to the state as it is in the case of Nigeria.

Conclusion On The Problems Of Land Tenure System In Nigeria, Types & Solutions

This article has taken an analytical look at current land tenure systems, their advantages as well as associated issues in Nigeria. It is an easy read for anyone hoping to learn about land tenure in Nigeria.


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