Developing properties can be very tense, you’re dealing with many people from Design consultants, Site workers, Vendors, Suppliers, In-house Project management team, and the community you are building in, then of course the Regulatory authorities. All these stakeholders make demands ever so often, you may make the mistake of forgetting to deal with one or more of them until they forcefully remind you. Especially when you default in making the appropriate payments or you do not show up at the right time for scheduled visits. Many times private developers prepare their drawings and forget to get the FULL approvals for their projects. Or they start the process and don’t finish it up due to perceived clumsiness of the system, they also sometimes get approvals but don’t engage the Development control authorities to notify them of progress at each stage. Then at the extreme are those who think they can finish their construction project before they start the process, due to the fact that they have “legs” in the system or they just hate government, or some just want to “game the system” because they feel they can.
Eventually, everyone tends to cooperate when the government wields its Big Red “X” mark plus the “Stop work” inscription on their walls. At such tense moments, when the site gets sealed and the Sticky Contravention Orders note is embellished on the beautifully painted gate or Fence, and in Lagos State or Abuja, you get a padlock and chain around your gate if the enforcement team comes around. You have less than 48 hours to prove you have been wrongfully indicted or you are going to be sanctioned!

Photo Credit: nairaland.com Lagos State Sealing Properties through the Governor’s Task Force in February 2021

In summary, there are two camps when it comes to people getting the right permits from the regulatory authorities before engaging in the physical development of project sites: Camp A is the camp of those who are genuinely ignorant, they are unaware of the whys and the processes, they are willing but they are unable to get relevant approvals; the second is the Camp B — The Camp of those who have “coconut head” they are unwilling to cooperate with the government or their community, they are belligerents and they believe that all they have to do is bribe their way through when the governor sends his men.
This writing is for Camp A, I want to educate you on why you need to get Permits/Approvals from Physical Planning Authorities in Nigeria before you start any physical works. So here are the five reasons:
1. Secures your Property Legally: While you already have a Title Document and a Deed showing your name, you can only lay claim on the built development when your name is on the approved plans and the letters of authorization that are sent along with approvals. This simply means that it is the name that is on the approval papers that the building is seen to belong to.
2. Saves you lots of Money: To a lot of people, spending money on approval is very expensive. Especially when they want to develop in urban areas or new towns that have high assessment rates. However, it is important to know that one must not be penny wise but pound foolish as the saying goes. It saves you money when you take relevant approvals and you do not pay fines, contravention fees and go through the rigours of reopening a sealed construction site. Secondly, it saves you money because you can know while going through approvals what the best use of the land is and you can know if it is fitting to go ahead with the proposal.(I would actually advise you to do all that research before even buying the land and going ahead with design) It is not going to be financially intelligent to have laid a foundation only to be told you cannot build a mosque in the location because it is an industrial area. A lot of people buying land in Ibeju Lekki for example are buying on Agro and Industrial plots, which means they may get approval only for those purposes, other than that they will have to apply for Land use change which will cost more.
3. Allows you to raise funds: Because you have gotten the go ahead of the governor to develop, via the Commissioner or the LGA Development Control Board (depending on the state we have different planning and physical development control systems in Nigeria). What this allows you to do, therefore, is to go to a financial institution to raise bonds or loans and you can develop according to that plan. The bank will be rest assured, knowing you have the right title and the regulatory permits. They will grant you the financial request because they are sure your property has the right clearance from the regulators. This also applies for mortgage institutions, so please take note.
4. Gives you Rights to Compensations: In a case where there is overriding public interest or some justifiable reason for the demolition of all or part of your property, the government is obligated to pay you reasonable compensations if you have met with your own part of the bargain by getting approvals at the right time. In a case where you feel cheated, you may even take the government to a competent court because you have satisfied your part of the contract.
5. Peace of Mind: Money cannot buy peace and rest in assurance, only a legal entity/person who has met all requirements can be absolutely sure that their property will never be taken down even when they see bulldozers and wrecking balls approaching. It is therefore the biggest benefit of getting a Permit before moving to site and working with the regulators while you are developing it. So you don’t have issues like these Abuja fellows.
There are different requirements with regards to this permits issue and I will be sharing those with you so you can learn how to walk around the system before you begin to develop a property in Nigeria. I look forward to your email inquiries and calls… Cheers!

Expediter, Architect, Writer and Aspiring Businessman