The distribution of land-use rights both defines and shapes African political economy. Control over land can be utilised in various ways to accumulate capital for either autonomous or comprador investments in the domestic economy. The acquisition of official titles to land concomitantly affords the holder opportunities to exploit those who do not possess this valuable resource. For these reasons, command over land offers the state a powerful means of regulating access to the dominant class. This study focuses on the ways in which allocations of statutory certificates of occupancy have affected the on-going process of class formation in two northern States of Nigeria: Kano and Bauchi. We are particularly interested in identifying, through information collected from a sample of application files, those elements of the population who were admitted and denied access to the dominant class through the land-allocation process during the late military-rule period, 1976–9.
* Professor of Political Science, University of Montana, Missoula.