Political power: Sources of political power

len Alfred Ajibola - 01st September, 2023 @ 10:30 AM

Topics in Government

Political power: Sources of political power Concept of power in government Functions of the executive arm of government Facts on Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy One-party system explained with its advantages and disadvantages What is Democracy? Definitions of Democracy Types of Government Functions of the 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 What are pressure groups? Types of pressure group Characteristics of Pressure Group Types of Constitution Scope of Government Characteristics of Government Importance of Government One-party system explained with its types and characteristics

Academic Questions in Government

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Which of the following is not a function of government?

  • A. Government provides all the jobs in the country they govern

  • B. Government empowers the less privilege and the physically challenged

  • C. Government provides a support system for the aged

  • D. Government provides infrastructure for her citizens

  • E. Government maintains external relations with other countries

  • F. Government generates revenue for the country they govern

In government, a type of one-party system whereby a single party is officially and legally recognized in a country or state is termed a _____.

  • A. Hegemonic Party

  • B. Pre-Dominant Party

  • C. Dominant Party

  • D. True Single-State

  • E. Unique-Ordered State

  • F. State-Exclusive Party

Which of the following is not a characteristic of the multi-party system?

  • A. There is an existence of several parties differing in principles and fundamentals.

  • B. The political parties are legally recognized.

  • C. It is democratic in nature.

  • D. Among the various parties, only one dominates the political landscape.

  • E. Some of the opposition parties can become politically insignificant.

  • F. It promotes the coalition of governments.

In a two-party system,  only 2 political parties are present in countries where they are practised.

  • A. True

  • B. False

On February 25, 2023; Nigeria as a country had its presidential election. The party system involved in this election is the _____.

  • A. Zero Party System

  • B. One-Party System

  • C. Two-Party System

  • D. Multi-Party System

  • E. APC, PDP and LP Party System

  • F. Coalition Party System

The following countries practice a zero party system except _____.

  • A. Cambodia

  • B. Vatican City

  • C. Bahrain

  • D. Saudi Arabia

  • E. Oman

  • F. Kuwait

Which of the following is not a characteristic of the two-party system?

  • A. It is democratic in nature

  • B. There isn't a third party

  • C. The two parties are always dominant in the political terrain

  • D. The president must emerge from one of both parties

  • E. It encourages freedom of expression at the press

  • F. It presents a choice of candidates to the people

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

  • A. Direct

  • B. Indirect

  • C. Constitutional

  • D. Islamic

  • E. Authoritarian

  • F. Participatory

What is political power?

Political power is defined as the potential, ability and capacity of an individual, a group or an institution to enforce law and order in the society through the implementation of policies that can control the behavior and actions of people.

The constitution of the land grants political officers a great deal of power. For example, the president of a country can choose to grant pardon to convicted criminals who are on death row. Also, the governors can carry out such actions of clemency within their states.

Please read on constitution here.


Officers with political powers within a country include the president, vice president, senators, house of assembly members, governors, ministers, secretaries of various cabinets, chief of staff, commissioners, mayors, councilors and local government chairmen.

Please read on the arms of government here.


One can have political power but may choose not to inpose it. In this regard, political power can be considered as a capacity, potential or ability to perform certain actons.


The concept of having political power and choosing not to impose it isn't necessarily a bad idea. As an instance, the show of political power and might through wars had led to the destruction of lives and properties in our world today. Perhaps, this could have been averted if dialogue had prevailed.

You can read on leadership qualities of Joseph that have transformed lives here.


Assumption to political power can be legitimate or illegitimate. Legitimacy of power refers to the rightful acceptance of a government (or an authority). Instances of legitimate power is typical to a democratic system of government conducted via a free and fair election. In this case, the vote of the people counts, and without any form of electoral fraud.

Please read on fraud as a contemporary social problem in Nigeria here.


Aside from attaining power democratically, Other ways through which political power can be assumed include:


It is noteworthy to state that political power can also be seized, resulting into a forcefully imposed authority. Such unlawful rise to power (and control) could exist in small parts of a state, or perhaps, the entire country. An instance of seized power is seen when rebels take over small parts of a state. Typical example of such rebels are the boko haram terrorists who had dominated parts of Bornu state, Nigeria in 2014.

You can read on pressure groups in Nigeria here.

Power can also be seized through a military junta. An example is the Niger military junta in which a presidential guard, general Abdourahamane Tchiani captured and detained the country's democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum on 26 July, 2023 via a bloodless coup d'état.

Please read the concept of power in government here.


Sources of political power

Sources of political power simply implies the various ways through which people assume political offices in the society, state or nation.

As explained earlier, assumption of political power may be legitimate or illegitimate, depending on the laws of the land.

You can read on the scope of government here.

A individual or group may attain political powers through the following:


  • 1. Elections

An election refers to a process in which people vote to choose their political leaders. Elections are carried out periodically in a democratized society. In this instance, power is vested on the people to elect their government. Therefore, the goal of democracy is to give power to the people through a free and fair electoral process.

Please read more on democracy here.


  • 2. Wealth and Popularity

Some persons had leveraged on their wealth and popularity, usuing it as a stepping stone into the corridors of power. An example is MKO Abiola who leveraged on his wealth and popularity towards winning the freest and fairest presidential election in Nigeria's history.

Please read motivational quotes for students here.

Ademola Jackson Adeleke, an uncle to the famous Nigerian music artist 'Davido', may be considered as another instance where wealth and popularity had brought about attainment of political power in Nigeria. The 'dancing governor' as he is fondly called, leveraged on the popularity of his family name, alongside his wealth and achievement towards winning the 2023 gubernatorial election in his state (Osun), Nigeria.


  • 3. Inheritance

With regards to the United Kingdom, succession to the British throne is attained via inheritance (descent). Therefore, the crown is inherited by a sovereign's children. The sovereign in this regard refers to the king or queen of England. In an event where the sovereign bore no child, his or her closest sibling will inherit the crown.

The UK monarch, King Charles III, who at the time of writing this article (2023), reigns as the head of state, although he remains politically neutral. He became king on September 8, 2022, after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

With regards to this system of power, King Charles' III son, William (Prince of Wales) becomes his heir apparent. Subsequently, if William assumes the throne, the first of his three children will become his heir apparent.

Please read interesting facts for students in government here.


  • 4. Military Junta

The term 'junta' refers to a committee, meeting or coalition of people who overthrows a government. It is an act of forcefully attaining power, and is practiced typically by the military. This manner of grabbing power is termed coup d'etat, and those involved in this act are termed coupist. A coup can be bloody or bloodless.

On January 15, 1966, the first coup d'etat in Nigeria occured. This was a bloody coup led by lieutenant-colonel Patrick Chukwuma 'Kaduna' Nzeogwu. Unfortunately, those kiiled in the coup include Nigeria's prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, alongside Ahmadu Ibrahim Bello (a conservative Nigerian statesman and a knight of the British Empire). Also murdered in this coup were prominent senior politicians, including senior army officers, and their loved ones.

You can attempt questions and answers in government here.

It was believed that a retaliation to the aforementioned coup led to the Nigerian civil war between July 6, 1967 and January 15, 1970. This was one of the first televised wars in human history to a global audience.

Note: Military junta is a form of dictatorship. It deprives the citizens of their fundamental human rights, and thus, must be condemned in all ramifications.

Please read on fundamental human rights here.


  • 5. Position of Authority

Power may be derived through a position of authority. An example is seen when the president appoints the ministers to oversee various ministries on his behalf. In this regard, the ministers gain power and authority over their ministries, and must report directly to the president. 

At the state level, the governors appoint the commissions, with each designated the power to head their respective commissions. However, the commissioners must report to the state governor.

Please read on the characteristics of government here.


  • 6. Personality of an Individual

Certain persons are regarded as national heroes and heroines through their activism, sacrifices and battles. As a result, they become elected, selected, or appointed with political powers. Examples of such individuals include Nelson Mandela, MKO Abiola and Obafemi Awolowo respectively.

Please read on Herbert Macaulay, the Nigerian nationalist here.

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Amazing facts in Government

The shortest war ever lasted for just 38 minutes. This is the Anglo-Zanzibar War in 1896

174 world leaders signed the Paris Agreement on Earth Day in 2016 at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York. This agreement presents the largest number of countries ever to come together to sign anything on a single day. The agreement aims to combat climate change, accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed to strengthen the global climate effort

United States of America is comprised of fifty states and Washington D.C.

The letter 'q' is not present in any of the American states

White House in Washington has 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms while Buckingham Palace in London has 775 rooms, including 78 bathrooms

Three United States presidents; John Adams (2nd US president), Thomas Jefferson (3rd US president), and James Monroe (5th US president) died on the 4th of July.

Coincidentally, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson also died the same year, and that's 1826.

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. Interestingly, he was only defeated once in his wrestling career

Notable points in Government

Ecclesiocracy is a form of government whereby religious leaders are recognized as the first citizens of a state.

The religious leaders in ecclesiocracy 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.

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, some of the highly placed in the society may end up oppressing the weak without being brought to justice.

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.

Please read on the forms of government here

Below are some of the functions of government:

  • It is the role of the government to protect and defend the fundamental human rights of her citizens.

  • The government maintains law and order through the law enforcement agencies. These will include the police, customs officers and other local securities.

  • It is the duty of the government to generate revenue. This can be achieved through foreign trade.

  • It is the responsibility of the government to maintain external relations with other countries. For this reason, the president may visit other countries for business and bilateral trade purposes. Similarly, other presidents may visit your country in this regard.

  • Please read on the functions of government here

Government can be defined under the following headings:

1. As an institution of a state.

Government is defined as an institution, agency, machinery or instrument that is established to manage the affairs of general welfare of the people making up a state or country


2. As a process or as an act of governing.

Government is defined as the processes and methods involved in the formulation, administration and implementation of public policies from a procedure which had been specifically spelt out in the constitution of a country or state


3. As an academic field of study.

Government is defined as the study of institutions, theories, ideas, values and doctrines as relating to the acquisition and use of political power for the welfare of the people

Please read more on the definitions of government here

End Sars - Len Academy

The End Sars is considered a pressure group in Nigeria. It campaigned in the interest of Nigerian youths, thus forcing the Nigerian government into scrapping the Special Anti-Robbery Squard (SARS) who had constantly brutalized Nigerians, especially the youths; through extortion, indiscriminate shootings, threats and other violent conducts.

Unfortunately, some Nigerian youths paid the ultimate price with their lives at the Lekki tollgate massacre. This happened on the 20th day of October, 2020.

Burna Boy, a Nigerian musician made a song titled '20 : 10 : 20' in this regard.

Please read on pressure groups in Nigeria here