Types of Government

Types of government

Meaning of government

Government is a group of people chosen or elected to make rules and regulations to guide the behaviour of the citizens. Without government, people will be free to take selfish actions that will be against the general interest of individuals living in society, especially the weak. The fittest would rule while the weak would be oppressed. Government, therefore, is very important in any society.

Types of government

These are various forms of government. Some of them are:

  1. Traditional government:

This is a form of government that is controlled or headed by a traditional ruler. Traditional leaders are the custodians of local traditions and customs.

Therefore, their government is based on the traditions and customs of the people of their area. Traditional government or leadership began a long time ago when people began to live together in communities and possess common culture and tradition. Traditional rulers in different parts of our country,

Nigeria are known by some titles such as Obi, Eze, Igwe – Igboland, Oba, Baale – Yorubaland and Emir – Hausa land

Before the colonisation of Nigeria by the British, traditional rulers ruled in all parts of the country and had a lot of power. However, after the colonisation, the powers of traditional rulers became reduced.

Today, traditional rulers attend to cultural matters. They oversee the history of their community.

  1. Monarchy:

This is a form of traditional government in which supreme power is in the hands of one person. It is a form of government in which the country is ruled by a king or queen. The king or queen is called a monarch. Many years ago, almost all the countries of the world were ruled by monarchs. It was believed that the king or queen had the divine right to rule, meaning that they were chosen by God to rule. A monarch performed the three functions of government, i.e. law making, execution of laws made, and the interpretation of laws. In modern government, what we now have is constitutional monarch or ceremonial monarch whose powers are controlled by the constitution. A country which has a constitutional monarch is Britain. The Queen of England reigns but does not rule. Countries where we still have monarchs are Jordan, Morocco, Sweden, and Denmark.

  1. Oligarchy:

Oligarchy is another traditional form of government in which a few people who are powerful or privileged rule. It is a form of government which often leads to cruelty in the governance of citizens. Some forms of oligarchy are:

  • Aristocracy: It is a government of individuals who own land and command great respect among the people.
  • Plutocracy: This is rule by the wealthiest in society.
  • Theocracy: It is a form of oligarchy in which the affairs of the state and religion are controlled by one person. The laws of God are taken to be the laws of the state. Examples of countries that practise theocracy are Saudi

Arabia, and Iran.

  1. Constitutional/democratic government:

Constitutional government can be regarded as government based on the constitution of the country. It can also be called democratic government. It is a government that is formed through elections. It has a fixed tenure of office which means that the government spends a specific period when elected.

In Nigeria, elections are held every four years. The 1999 Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution states clearly that elections are to be held every four years to change government. Nigeria thus practises constitutional or democratic government.


Kinds of constitutional government

A constitutional government could either be presidential or parliamentary.

The features of parliamentary government and presidential government are as follows:

  1. Parliamentary government: This system of government is headed by the prime minister. The executive and the legislative arms of government are not separated. They are fused. The prime minister, who is the head of the executive, is also a member of the legislature. The Lord Chancellor in Britain, where this system of government is practised, is a member of the three arms of government. There is no separation of powers in this system of government. Britain is a good example of countries practising the parliamentary system.
  2. Presidential government: This form of government is headed by a president elected by the people. He rules for a fixed period, e.g. four years or five years. The three arms of government are separate in their composition. That is one person cannot belong to two arms of government at the same time. There is separation of powers in this system of government. Nigeria is practising this system of government.



Answer the following questions:

  1. Explain the meaning of government.
  2. Explain traditional form of government.
  3. What is constitutional form of government?




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