Land grabbing in Ibadan, Oyo State, in Nigeria is not as critical as in other parts of the country. However we keep a watchful eye on the phenomenon in and around this State in the South West of Nigeria. Mr OLA, a rural development officer in Ibadan, has told us what is going on there.
LJ4WA: What is the prevalence of land grabbing in Oyo State?
Mr OLA: Land grabbing is not a widespread phenomenon in Oyo State. However the few incidences of which we are aware send a strong signal of the potential phenomenal rise in the nearest future. The present victims appear helpless and no one seems to be doing anything to sanction the grabbers. We focus now on the sensitization of farmers to create awareness on the dangers of indiscriminate land sale.
LJ4WA: Who are the buyers of farmland in Ibadan and for what purpose?
Mr OLA: First of all, the cases we have witnessed did not occur within the city of Ibadan, but in local communities on the outskirts of the city where we work with rural farmers (sometimes as far away as 30-50 kilometers from Ibadan). The buyers of farmlands in these locations are local investors in agriculture who have established large mechanized farms and desire to expand their enterprises. But there are also churches and worship centers, governments at all levels and land speculators. Many of these transactions are not forceful or fraudulent land acquisition; however they lack transparency and adequate information. As such the land owners are short changed. Not all parcels of land are owned by individuals. In almost all communities, communal lands do exist and they are kept in trust for the communities by traditional rulers. Buyers of large parcels of land often work through these traditional rulers with promises of setting up industries where employment can be generated for rural community members. However, after acquisition of the land, they put up banners warning that trespassers on the land will be prosecuted, for upwards of 10 years after acquisition, and no form of development ever takes place. We have evidence of at least 2 of such instances. The end result is that the farmers have been displaced, lost their sources of livelihood, while the promised industries never take off!
LJ4WA: Had there been case of eviction of farmers to cease their land?
Mr OLA: We know at least 2 farmers and their families who have been out rightly evicted without compensation. We are not aware of any evicted farmer who got compensation. This is possible because rural owners of farmland do not have documentary evidence of ownership. Land is passed down to them through inheritance. We suspect there may be more evicted people than we know, since we can only speak about the farmer groups with whom we work in the communities. However in cases where land is purchased, the sellers get paid, although the price is often dictated by the buyers.
LJ4WA: What is the impact of land grabbing on rural women in Ibadan?
Mr OLA : We do not work with any group that is made up exclusively of women. By design, we insist that each of our farmers’ groups should be made up of men, women and youths from different households within the communities. However, since women work alongside their husbands on the same farmland, land grabbing has serious impact on both men and women. Land is a source of food, shelter, income, social identity and security of rural people (men and women). Without land, people cannot cultivate and sell their crops; they have restricted access to water and firewood and do not have a home, where they can live with family and relatives. They also have no place to bury their dead.
LJ4WA: Thank you very much Mr OLA!