Government - Types and Forms of Government

len Alfred Ajibola - Tue, 23rd July, 2019 @ 06:55 PM

Topics in Government

Arms of Government: Functions of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary Scheme of Work for Government, SS1, First Term Scheme of Work for Government, SS1, Second Term Scheme of Work for Government, SS1, Third Term Concept, Advantages and Disadvantages of Multi-Party System Concept, Advantages and Disadvantages of Two-Party System Pressure Group: Types of Pressure Group Characteristics of Pressure Group Constitution - Types of Constitution Government - Scope of Government Government - Characteristics of Government Government - Importance of Government One-Party System explained Multi-Party System explained with its Characteristics Party System: Zero Party System Two-Party System explained with its Characteristics Democracy and Types of Democracy Democracy - Characteristics of Democracy Government - Types and Forms of Government Government - Functions of Government

Academic Questions in Government

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Democracy is defined as a government formed by the consent of the governed.

  • A. True

  • B. False

Which of the following is not a type of democracy?

  • A. Peripheral democracy

  • B. Direct democracy

  • C. Islamic democracy

  • D. Representative democracy

  • E. Participatory democracy

  • F. Authoritarian democracy

Which of the following is not a characteristics of democracy?

  • A. Kingdom supracy

  • B. Rule of law

  • C. Political equality

  • D. Separation of power

  • E. Freedom of expression

  • F. Popular sovereignty

The following are functions of government except _____.

  • A. To provide free money for her citizens

  • B. To make laws as contained in the constitution

  • C. To defend and protect the lives and properties of her citizens

  • D. To provide a justice system

  • E. To generate revenue for the country

  • F. To maintain law and order through the law enforcement agencies

Government may be defined as an agency or machinery or instrument that is established to manage the general welfare of the people that make up a country.

In the above statement, government is defined _____.

  • A. As a process

  • B. As an act of governing

  • C. As an institution of a state

  • D. As an academic field o study

  • E. As a political wheel

  • F. As a machine of movement

Which of the following statement is false regarding the constitution?

  • A. No one is above the constitution, even the president or prime minister of a country

  • B. A constitution can be written or unwritten

  • C. The constitution consists of the fundamental human rights of citizens of a nation

  • D. The constitution does not necessarily allocate power to the different arms of government

  • E. The constitution upholds the people's sovereignty

  • F. A good constitution is neither too rigid not too flexible

A form of government whereby each state that makes up a country has the power to govern itself and manage it's own resources is known as _____.

  • A. Democracy
  • B. Communism
  • C. Federalism
  • D. Meritocracy
  • E. Autocracy
  • F. Oligarchy

The following are examples of pressure group in Nigeria except _____.

  • A. End SARS

  • B. Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)

  • C. Odua Peoples Congress (OPC)

  • D. Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)

  • E. Operation Feed the Nation (OFN)

  • H. National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS)



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Forms of Government:

Government and good governance is a necessity in every society. Without a form of government, anarchy, chaos and confusion will become the order of the day due to the absence of necessary laws and constitution.

One of the duties of the government is to make laws that govern the society. Without laws, the rich will oppress the poor while the mighty oppresses the weak without being brought to justice.

Please read on the Definitions, Branches and Division of Government of Government here.

The absence of government in a society or country or nation or state or community is referred to as anarchy.

An instance of anarchy occurred in Somalia in 1991 after a dictator name Said Barre was overthrown. This made Somalia disintegrate into fractions with local warlords imposing their authority over their land.

In this article, we will look into the various forms of government; some of which existed in the past while others are currently adopted by various countries of the world.

To better understand the reasons behind the existence of these forms of government, please read on Characteristics, Functions and Importance of Government here.

Below are explanations on some of the forms of government


1. Colonialism

Colonialism is a form of government in which a nation or country is governed by another country.

Most often, the ruling country (sometimes called colonial masters) may utilize or exploit the resources of the nation(s) under them for their own benefits. Also, the colonial masters will likely impose their language, culture and religion on the nation(s) they govern.

Nigeria as a nation underwent this form of government (colonialism) under the British colony until she gained her independence on the 1st day of October, 1960.

When countries gain independence, it means they are now free from colonialism. The people of an independent country are considered to be free because they can now rule themselves.

Note: Nelson Mandela, the first Black South African President liberated the black people of South Africa from the few whites (colonial masters) who racially discriminated and ruled the black majority.


2. Oligarchy

Oligarchy is a form of government where the privileged, wealthy, elite and noble men rule over those of lower classes or statuses.

The few wealthy men in oligarchy will often transfer the power to rule unto their children, while the poor continue to serve them.

It is noteworthy that the wealthy, elite and noble men are typically educated and are viewed in high esteem by the common masses.

Please read on self-esteem here.

Aristocracy is sometimes considered to be a kind on oligarchy.

In Aristocracy, the nobles rule the people.

Other kinds of oligarchy will include:

  • Plutocracy: The wealthy rule the people.
  • Technocracy: Technical experts and the educated rule the people.
  • Timocracy: Those with honors rule the people.


3. Monarchy

Monarchy is a form of government whereby power is attributed to a royal bloodline. Typically, a single member of the royal family becomes the king unto which absolute power and authority is given.

Please read on the epic story of the gods are not to blame here.

The people usually celebrate when the king assumes his throne because he is believed to be divinely destined as their king.

Historically, this form of government displayed absolute power but nowadays, some of the powers wielded by the kings have been lost to the federal and even the state government respectively.

In a society with absolute monarchy, the king (monarch) is not restricted by the law and constitution.

States like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Morocco and Swaziland have kings who wields power and political authority.

Note: Nowadays, constitutional monarchs are present. These are elected into office and will exercise their powers in accordance with the constitution.

Please read more on Constitution here.


4. Communism

Communism is a form of government whereby the society and all its structure are owned by the public.

According to Karl Marx, there isn’t a lower class among the people; instead, all are considered as equal.

Communism usually retains a single system of government and had been practiced in Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR); which later disintegrated into 15 different countries in 1991. The countries include:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Note: If communism isn’t properly checked, it may give rise to a form of dictatorship.

Some countries will often refer itself to as communist but meanwhile, their form of governance tends to tilt towards dictatorship. North Korea may be considered as an instance here.


5. Federalism

In federalism, each state that makes up the country has the power to govern itself and manage its own resources.

Additionally, each of these states will have a unifying federal presence; that is, a federal government which will represent the country (all the states) on the international scene. The federal government may also get remittance from each of the state in accordance to their resources and generated revenue.

Please read on Balance of Trade and Balance of Payments here.

It is often said that true federalism is practiced in the United States of America, which comprise of 50 states with their unique sets of laws and customs. Each of these states is often considered to have some degree of independent authority even though they are being united by the federal presence.

Note: The federal government have their own laws which may sometimes override the laws of the states.


6. Dictatorship

Dictatorship can either exist in the forms of military or civilian rule.

In military dictatorship, there is no form of election and the nation involved is ruled by the absolute power of one man whom may be referred to as the head of the nation’s armed forces.

The dictator of a military regime assumes power by coup d'etat which is usually bloody (as lives are lost), but may also be bloodless in some cases.

The militaty dictator must be a military personnel (an army officer for instance) and will normally defend their rise to power under the claims of corruption by the previous military dictator or democratically elected leader.

Note: The courts usually do not exercise their powers in military dictatorship because the leader seems to be above the law.

Please read on the Judiciary as an Arm of Government here.

In 1966, Major General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi became the first military Head of State in Nigeria after he overthrew a democratic and constitutional government (headed by the Prime Minister: Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

In June 1998, General Abdusalam Abubakar became the last military Head of State in Nigeria after the death of General Sani Abacha from food poisoning.

General Abdusalam Abubakar honorably handed the mantle of leadership to a democratic system of government in 1999.

Please read on the Types of Democracy here.

Dictatorship can also be civilian. In this case, absolute power is vested in the hands of a single civilian who may be elected into office.

  • A typical example of a civilian dictatorship is Adolf Hitler of Germany and Joseph Stalin of Russia and Georgia.


7. Democracy

Democracy is a form of government where the power of choosing a leader is vested on the people. It represents a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

According to Abrahim Lincoln,

Democracy means government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Please read on Democracy and Characteristics of Democracy here.

In democracy, the citizens have the rights to vote and be voted for. The citizens are mandated to choose their preferred candidate by voting for them through their political party. In fact, this voting process is considered as one of the fundamental human rights and civic responsibility of every citizen.

Please read on the Fundamental Human Rights here.

No one is above the rule of law in the democratic system. If the election outcome does not reflect the mandate of the people, a court of competent jurisdiction can nullify such election.

Democracy is practiced in countries like Nigeria, United States of America, India and South Africa.


8. Meritocracy

This form of government requires that power is vested on individuals who have got academic achievements, professional statuses and leadership experience.

Note: It is assumed that whoever the leaders are, they must be credible and deserving of their office.

In this rule, one who has a doctorate degree in English cannot become the minister of power. This is so because his or her doctorate degree in English has very little or no correlation with electricity and power; rather such person can become the minister of education or something related to their achievement.

Please read on the Causes, Consequences and Solutions to Illiteracy here.

To some extent, meritocracy is practiced in Singapore and it seems to have produced some positive results for the country.


9. Autocracy

An autocratic form of government requires that supreme power must be vested in the hand of one person. The individual on which this power is vested may be educated or not.

Also, external authorities have no say on the decisions made by an autocratic government.

Understand that dictatorship and absolute monarchy are sometimes considered as types of autocracy.

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Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.

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Amazing facts in Government


The organs of government (also referred to as arms of government or branches of government) are:

  1. Executive

  2. Legislature

  3. Judiciary

These three arms of government serves as a separation of power.

Separation of Power implies that they carry out their distinct (separate) functions and responsibilities in accordance to the nation's constitution.

The president (who is number one citizen of a country and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces) is the head of the executive arm of government. It is the responsibility of the executive to enforce or execute the law.


The legislature is a group of elected persons who are required to make law.

In Nigeria, the legislature consist of the bicameral National Assembly which are:

  1. The upper house or chamber (Senate)
  2. The lower house or chamber (House of Representative)


The judiciary is an independent arm of government whose power is enforced in the courts.

Like the Executive and Legislature, they function under the guidance of the constitution.

Please read more on the organs of government here

Below are some functions of the executive arm of government:

  1. They ensure the security of the citizens in a country.

  2. The executive cannot pass laws into the constitution. Instead, they can forward bills to the legislature (or parliament) which will deliberate upon it. (Think of 'bill' as a proposal to be made into law; which will be submitted to the parliament in the form of a draft act).

  3. It is the president's responsibility to provide quality healthcare system, education, good roads (transport system), power, labour and finance through his ministers. For instance, the minister of agriculture oversees the affairs of agriculture in a nation. The ministers may also be accountable to the national assembly with regards to how they go about their ministries.

  4. They bring about maintenance of law and order in a country through the National Security Agencies (NSA) like the police, army, navy and air force.

  5. They prepare and execute the nation’s budget.

  6. The president approves the law into the constitution.

Plesse read more on the functions of executive, legislative and judiciary arms of government here

No one is above the constitution, even the president or prime minister.

  • The constitution is the supreme law in a country, nation or state.

  • The constitution specifies how the nation or state should be governed.

  • The constitution gives power to the different organs of government; (that is,  the executive, judiciary and legislature).

  • The constitution consists of all the fundamental human rights of the people.

Juxtaposing the above points, below is a definition for the term constitution:

Constitution is a supreme law that specifies the government of a nation, the distribution of powers to the different organs of government within that nation and the fundamental rights of all her citizens.

Please read more on the constitution here

Below are some qualities or characteristics of a constitution

  • It is neither too rigid nor too flexible.

  • It accounts for the rule of law, de-centralization of power, an independent Judiciary system and processes of election transparency.

  • It accounts for the fundament human rights of the people.

  • It allocates power to the different arms of government.

  • It must uphold the people’s sovereignty.

  • It is written systematically.

You can read on the Types of Constitution here.

Dictatorship is one of the forms of Government. It can exist either as:

  1. Military Dictatorship
  2. Civilian Dictatorship

In 1966, Major General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi became the first military Head of State in Nigeria after he overthrew a democratic and constitutional government (headed by the prime minister; Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa)

The above instance is a military form of dictatorship.

A typical example of a civilian dictatorship is Adolf Hitler of Germany and Joseph Stalin of Russia and Georgia

You can read more on dictatorship here