Investor confidence is on the rise in Edo State as the state’s Geographic Information Service (EDOGIS) introduced by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has made processing of title documents for landed property easier, cheaper and convenient.

This has meant that businesses operating in Edo State can confidently do their business without fear of the challenges associated with land administration as the EDOGIS has ensured land security, especially for businesses in the agric sector.

The Managing Director of Okomu Oil Plc, one of the leading agro-allied firms in the West African sub-region, Dr Graham Hefer, said EDOGIS has played a significant role in bringing stability to agriculture business in the state.

Dr Hefer, who spoke in an exclusive interview with The Nigerian Observer on Thursday, enumerated EDOGIS’ impact to include prompt response to enquiries, better coordination and turnaround time such that agric investors are no longer anxious that family or communal clashes could dispossess them of their farms.

“One of the best things that have happened is the EDOGIS. It has certainly helped our company and other companies in making sure that the boundaries are now within the government institutions so that if there are any disputes, it is easy: we just go to EDOGIS and say, ‘Please confirm who the proper owner is’, and that has made life a lot easier,” Dr. Hefer said.

“Investors need stability. I don’t want to wake up every day finding someone saying, ‘No, this is my property’, especially in the agriculture environment. So, if there is security, that is a very good stabilizing factor not just for us but for everybody in general, even the smallholders.

“If the smallholder now has his parcel of land, he has an asset. He can go to the bank if need be and say, ‘Give me money, here is my asset, you can take it as security’. So, that happens in an environment which is stable and not just only gives investors peace of mind but financially, the banks are going to say, ‘Now we have an asset we can hold as security’, and that builds even more confidence. Then you start seeing the third parties, the third line companies – realizing that the bank is now the key to finance,” he said.

Hefer also lauded the Edo State government for the structure it has brought into the agriculture sector, saying that has helped a lot.

“The manner in which government is doing business, we find a lot more readiness from the government institutions to work with the companies. The reports, the tools, the manner in which the government has put together various departments now are far more constructive. We are comfortable and happy. We have disagreements, of course, you know, we understand that and then we go ahead and discuss it, figure it out. With the departments, when we ask for documentation, we get it.

Related News

“We have also started to see that when we pay our taxes, we see some good infrastructure projects in return. That is very important. We don’t want to pay our taxes and be asking, ‘What happened?’ We are always seeking for more, just like they are asking for more taxes. You know, when more people invest, you make more money, then you pay more taxes.

“In general, I think the government has done a very good job in organizing the ministries; people that are chosen have become very proactive, they talk with us, they ask us if there is any problem, they have a list so nothing gets lost anymore and generally, when we ask for something it comes back to us so that we can know where we can defend ourselves if need be or we can work with the government to increase our area and we are able to get things done,” he said.

Also speaking in a separate interview last week, the Chief Executive Officer of Ughoron Investment Limited, an indigenous real estate business based in Benin City,

Imasuen Izoduwa, described EdoGIS as “a beautiful masterpiece from the state governor”.

Izoduwa, who said he was one of the pioneer staff of Edo Geographic Information Service (EdoGIS), said the innovation has curbed many issues around land administration in the state.

“I worked with EdoGIS for five months, from September 4, 2018 to January 31, 2019. Within those five months I spent working as a civil servant, I was able to gather ideas about land administration in Edo State. I must say EdoGIS is a beautiful masterpiece from the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, because digitalizing land problem is one of the paramount problems in Edo state,” Izoduwa said.

“The governor coming up with that digital ideology to curb the issues that concern land administration in the state was a masterstroke,” he said.

Established by the Edo State Lands Administration and Geographic Information Service Law, 2018, EDOGIS has the responsibility, amongst others, to establish and regulate the standards to be applied in the compilation of data relating to land and its administration in the state; repository and management of master plans, district plans, survey information and dataset including charges for services; undertake registration of all land titles and instruments in the state including but not limited to issuance of certificates and recertification of land instruments in cases where certification had been carried out before the coming into force of this law; supervision of all Land Use Allocation Committees in the state; and processing and grant of Certificates of Occupancy, Rights of Occupancy and grants of Consent to land transactions as required by Law.