GEG WP 2015/103 Socio-Political Economy and Dynamics of Government-Driven Land Grabbing in Nigeria since 2000

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Large-scale agricultural land investment (LALI) has been widespread across Africa over the past decade. In Nigeria since 2000, such investment has been central to the government’s efforts at an ‘alternative development’ model to revamp and reanimate the agricultural sector. This paper examines the nature and dynamics of government-led land acquisitions in Nigeria.

The paper begins with a definitional exploration of what constitutes a “land grab”, laying out the basic principles, based on international standards, that define the phenomenon. It contends that only the total respect of these principles would ensure that a LALI is not a “land grab”. The (re)emergence and intensification of land acquisition trends in Nigeria are explained as the product of a combination of external and internal factors which ultimately led to an environment that triggered and exacerbated problematic patterns of acquisition.

Three case studies of government-led land acquisitions are examined to illustrate this dynamic, as well as the genuine experiences of local populations, each of which demonstrate various aspects of the problem. In the final analysis, some critical lessons and incipient realities of the land grab development in Nigeria are then articulated.