Forms of Government

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

Topics in Government

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Academic Questions in Government

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A type of democracy whereby shura is practiced is termed _____ democracy

  • A. Direct

  • B. Indirect

  • C. Constitutional

  • D. Islamic

  • E. Authoritarian

  • F. Participatory

A type of democracy whereby the people vote a bill into law is termed _____ democracy

  • A. Direct

  • B. Indirect

  • C. Constitutional

  • D. Islamic

  • E. Authoritarian

  • F. Participatory

In democracy, every citizen has got the right to vote and be vote for. Also, the principle one man one vote in this regard refers to which characteristic of democracy?

  • A. Separation of power

  • B. Freedom of expression

  • C. Constitutional supremacy

  • D. Rule of Law

  • E. Political equality

  • F. Popular sovereignty

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

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 laws governing the nation. Meanwhile, recall the law (constitution) serves as a guide to the people.

One of the duties of the government is to make laws that govern the society. Without laws, some of the rich may oppress the poor. Similarly, the mighty may end up oppressing the weak without being brought to justice.

Please read on the concept of government here.

The absence of government in a society, country, nation, 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 these government 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 functions of government here.

Below are explanations on the various forms of government:


  • Colonialism

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

In colonialism, the ruling country (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.

Nelson Mandela is the the first black South African president who liberated the black people of South Africa from the few whites (colonial masters) who racially discriminated and ruled the black majority. The following points are noteworthy regarding Nelson Mandela:


  • 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 upon whom absolute power and authority is given.

Please read 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 may be lost to the federal and state governments if democracy is practiced alongside it.

In a society with absolute monarchy, the king (monarch) is not restricted by the law and constitution. In this regard, states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Morocco and Swaziland have kings who wields power and political authority.

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

Please read more on constitution here.


  • 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). Eventually, the USSR 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.

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

Meanwhile, some countries may refer themselves to as communists but in reality, their form of governance tends to tilt towards dictatorship. North Korea may be considered as an instance here (2019).


  • 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.

You can read on balance of trade and balance of payments here.

It is said that true federalism is practiced in the United States of America, which comprise of 50 states, with each state having its unique set of laws and customs. Each of these states is considered to have some degree of independent authority although they are still being united by the federal presence.

However, understand that the federal government have their own laws which may override the laws of the states.


  • Autocracy

An autocratic form of government requires that supreme power must be vested in the hand of one person. The individual on whom this power is vested may be educated or not. Also, external authorities have no say on the decisions made by an autocratic government.

Dictatorship and absolute monarchy are sometimes considered as types of autocracy.


  • Ecclesiocracy

Ecclesiocracy is a form of government whereby religious leaders are recognized as the first citizens of a state. More importantly, these religious leaders do not proclaim themselves as a direct instrument of divine revelation concerning laws governing the society.

A typical example of ecclesiocracy is seen in Vatican City where the pope presides as the leader of the state. However, the pope does not claim to receive direct revelation from God concerning civil laws.

The grand Ayatollah of Iran (Ali Khamenei) and president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir are also considered as instances of leaders in ecclesiocracy.

It is worthy of note to state that the laws and rules governing the land in ecclesiocracy are based on religious beliefs, thus making it somewhat related to theocracy.

Please read on dictatorship, democracy, meritocracy oligarchy and theocracy here.

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Amazing facts in Government

Abraham Lincoln, the great human emancipator, freedom fighter and 16th American president was popular for the saying:

Government of the people, by the people and for the people

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States of America was a professional wrestler before he assumed the office of the American President. Interesting, he was only defeated once in his wrestling career


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