Gerontocracy in religiously plural Nigerian societies: a tool for land management

Gerontocracy is a system of government in which the eldest members of the kindred leads and makes decision on behalf of the kindred or clan in primordial societies particularly in Africa. One of the areas in which the leadership of the elders is most sought is in the area of land acquisition. Until recently no one gets access to land without the collective consent of the elders’ council. However with the enactment of the land use decree in Nigeria, government agencies and multinational companies have sought access to vast areas of family land without passing through the elders, but instead using the provisions of the land use decree, obtaining certificates of occupancy of land belonging to family men and women. This article seeks to re-assess the more dependable role played by the elders in the past which helped to stabilize the land economy in Nigeria in view of the present confusion created in this area by the activities of unscrupulous land speculators and misinformed bureaucrats. It recommends that the land use decree should be modified to incorporate the system of gerontocracy whereby no one gains access to property belonging to others without the due and informed consent of the owners of such property.

Dr. Amadi Enoch Ahiamadu
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