With a population of nearly 200 million, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Should current rates of growth persist, the number of inhabitants could swell to 900 million by the end of the century, with its capital Lagos widely predicted to be the world’s first 100 million metropolis. While its rich gas and oil reserves are propelling the country to middle-income status, poverty remains widespread, with over 50% living on less than US$1.90 a day. While petroleum now accounts for a large share of government revenue and exports, agriculture remains an important sector employing over a third of the working-age population and accounting for 21% of the country’s GDP.
Formally, all land is nationalised, with allocation falling on the 36 local governments which issue customary certificates of occupancy (CCOs). However, in practice high costs and bureaucratic application procedures mean that customary rights or Islamic Law govern land tenure for a majority of Nigerians. These rights allow for flexible leases, pledges, borrowing arrangements and sharecropping, and are often transferred in vibrant informal markets, especially in urban areas.
Although Nigeria’s Constitution and a series of statutes mandate equal land, divorce and inheritance rights between men and women, customary law and traditional norms tend to disregard the rights of women.