The Potential: Ayokunle Adeleye’s column on entrepreneurship as a career path in Nigeria and beyond

The POTENTIAL VIII: Acquiring Land

Every good business needs its own land sooner or later. Plus, land is an appreciative asset, unlike cars, and makes for good collateral, unlike shares. But when it comes to acquiring land, it is often a case of the same person not possessing a good head and a fitting cap. Why, those of us with the tricks and nice locations do not have the wherewithal, and those with the wherewithal are either too distracted or too naïve.

Two weeks ago, I was in Lagos sourcing funds for a piece I had finally gotten the keys to after years of hoping. I thought I was offering a
good deal, well, until my calls stopped being answered or returned. Money doth answer all things. And after a decade of yes-man-ship,
you’d suppose I’d be earning the big salary by now. Oh, that I have some! But money is not all that is required, as you shall soon see.

According to the Land Use Act of 1978, persons less than 21 years old, the age of majority, cannot acquire land, save by inheritance. So,
first things first: are you old enough? Then, are you ready for the trek? The other day in the Theatre, this Doctor had a call which I had
the privilege of being privy to as his hands were busy. Someone, apparently a land speculator, was offering him land. I just pitied him.

There are simple rules to buying land, and land speculators are not in a good part of my rulebook: If you are too busy to find your own land,
you are probably too busy to own it. Location is everything. And with it comes seasonality and exposure. With the latter comes implied
costs. As I shall now explain…

Swamps tend to be dry during dry seasons; so land is best searched out at the peak of the rainy season. (Half-word suffices for the wise.)
Lands by the roadside are generally exposed, and are not only relatively expensive but are also very competitive, spatially as well
as temporally. Encroachments are not unheard of, as are reclamations and multiple sales. I personally do not think it wise to buy land that
will take you to court (over and over) or make you pay over and over.

If you ever buy such competitive land, you must be ready to finance the implied costs: extra payments for Witnesses and other signatories,
homage to the local lords and land leeches, accelerated building with/out property demarcation, and sometimes, settlements for dissenting families (or family members).

Usually, here’s what I suggest: get a good surveyor, to avoid government-acquired land, as well as get cheap(er) offers; and a good lawyer to draft an ironclad agreement – my lawyer is the best there is. These added costs save you a lot of trouble. Be careful with surveyors though. I have learnt to measure land myself, and to negotiate with the owners before I bring in my surveyor. And that is not paranoia.

(If I told you everything here, the tricks and clauses and dangers and precautions, then what would you pay me for? Locations only? Offers
only? Meeting my lawyer is for free, anyway.)

And how much land do I have to have become a speaker on the issue? I’m still waiting for my big break ni o. Nyem ego, ka’o kudi, m’owo wa;
bring money… and I will gladly test these things effortlessly right before your very eyes. Right now, I only speak from experience gathered over the years. *winks* And I know the best lawyer for these matters, just saying.