The majority of people on earth are now living in cities and towns. By 2030, over 4.6 billion people will live in urban areas (Wish 2009). For this urban population, access to secure shelter is a precondition for access to other benefits such as livelihood opportunities, public services and credit (Payne 2002). Tenure therefore forms the foundation on which any effort to improve the living condition for the poor has to be built. There is however counter arguments to this: Recent reviews of urban tenure policy suggest that titling has not achieved its objectives and is of doubtful benefit to the poor (Angel 2001 and Fernandes 2001, in Payne 2002 (9)). Similarly, Oswald (1999) argues that the higher a nations level of home ownership the higher its level of unemployment. Oswald cited an example with Switzerland as having the lowest rate of home ownership in the industrialised nations and only 1% unemployment, while in Spain 80% of population own their homes and 13% unemployment rate. Oswald concluded that home ownership levels restrict labour market mobility and thereby increase unemployment. The subject is not one that can easily be defined or delivered according to universally agreed norms. This is because tenure has many historical, cultural, legal and economic associations that affect people's perception and behaviour.
In 2008, 48% of Nigeria's population lives in urban areas. Also, Nigeria is ranked 158 out of 177 on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Poverty Index in 2007. People living in relative poverty declined from 65.6% in 1996 to 54.4% in 2004 (UNDP 2007). According to UN Habitat however, poverty rate in Nigeria has skyrocketed to 76% in 2009 (This Day 2009). In the same vein, close to 77% of Nigerian city dwellers are living in urban slums, while 99% of problems expected to be addressed under the MDG are located in urban settlements. People living in poverty are often the most vulnerable as regards access to land. This is because they usually lack a regular income source and savings to apply for credit and meet the stringent building codes and other conditions required for formal purchase and occupation of land (Smolka and Damasio 2005).