Tag Archives: GOVERNMENT STUDIES ON OldNaija

Concepts of Government- Power And Authority

Political Power and Authority

Power

What is power?
Power is defined as the ability to affect someone’s behaviour through some sanctions.
(According to C. C Dibie’s Essential Government, “Power is the capacity to affect another’s behaviour by the threat of sanction. The sanctions may be negative or positive. Thus, a political leader may have the ability to control the actions of others by promising those who support him wealth or honours, or he may threaten to deny such rewards to those who oppose him. However, sanctions are used if there is non-compliance”.)

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Pre-Colonial Political Administration of the Benin Empire

Pre-colonial administration of the Benin empire

The Edos of Benin inhabit the south western part of modern day Nigeria and are close neighbors of the Yorubas with whom they claim the same origin. The Benin pre-colonial system of government, like the Yorubas was monarchical. The Oba (a title used for the king of Benin) was the theoretical and political leader of the empire with absolute authority no one dares to challenge. Unlike a Yoruba king, he was not bounded by the constitution or laws of the land. He solely wielded the legislative, executive and judiciary powers of the empire. Howbeit, he was assisted in the administering the empire by a many councils and officials. The highest of the councils were the Uzama who advised the King on important matters concerning the affairs of the empire. But unlike a Yoruba king, he was not subjected to their advice and decisions; he could heed to them and dispose them at will. Besides advising the King, the Uzama were also saddled with the responsibility of crowning a new king (the eldest surviving son of the previous king).

Apart from the Uzama, there were a number of officials who helped the Oba in administering the empire. These included officials like ‘Unwagwe’ and ‘Eribo’ who were in charge of the empire’s trade. They monitored the flow of goods in the empire and advice the king on how the economy of the empire can be improved. There were also the gold and brass-smiths that took care of the empire’s craft and industry. Other notable and important officials were the ‘Ezomo’, ‘Ebohon’, ‘Iyasere’ and the ‘Ologbosere’, the chief priest. All these officials had specific roles they played in the administration of the empire.

Furthermore, the Benin Empire was divided into two classes; they were the nobles and the commoners. Traditional chiefs and administrative officials were mostly chosen from the noble class. These included: the ‘Iwebo’ who were in charge of the regalia; the ‘Ibiwe’ who supervised the king’s harem and the ‘Iwagwe’ who provided the king with personal attendants. On the other hand, the commoners were not involved in the administration of the empire. Their main concern was providing food for their communities. Each of the commoners owns a piece of land he/she cultivated. They were also hired by the nobles to work on their farms for a period of time in return for money, a piece of land or sometimes cancellation of debts.

 

References:

  • Ola Abiola; A Textbook of West African History; 3rd ed.; Ado-Ekiti; Omolayo Standard Press & Bookshops co. (Nig.) Ltd.; 1984

Definition, Characteristics and Types of Sovereignty

Government Studies on OldNaija

Definition of Sovereignty

What is Sovereignty?
Sovereignty is derived from the Latin word “Superanus” which means supreme or paramount.

Sovereignty is the supreme authority and power of a state to make and enforce laws/policies within its area of jurisdiction. The state exercise its power and authority in any way it can [either De facto or De Jure (they will be explained below)] without any means of external interference or control. The French philosopher, Jean Bodin (1530-1590), propounded the idea of sovereignty his publication of “The Republic” in 1576.

 

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Concepts of Government- Legitimacy

Government Studies on OldNaija

Definition of Legitimacy

The word legitimacy is coined from the Latin word “legitimus” which means according to law. Therefore, legitimacy can be defined as the recognition and acceptance which the citizens give their leaders to rule them. For a government to rule successfully in a state, it must enjoy the full support and popular acceptance of the electorates or citizens. This is the reason why legitimacy/ political legitimacy remain an important features of a government. A legitimate government comes to power through the consent of the people by voting it in. Many people believe that legitimacy cannot be found in a coercive government (military government). However, the military can enjoy legitimacy by making popular government policies. In a legitimate government, obedience is not based on fear of sanctions but on loyalty to the ruler and the state.

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Characteristics And Functions Of Government

 

Below are the major Characteristics/Features and Functions of the Government in a State

Characteristics of Government

1. Constitution– This is a major characteristic of a government. The government make a set of agreed rules which guides it in the administration of the state.

2. Periodic Change– A government is meant to change after a specific period of time. No government is permanent, particularly a democratic or elective government which changes through periodic election.

3. Legitimacy– A government must enjoy the support of the people.

4. Revenue– The government make revenue in different ways to enhance its administration

5. Political Power– The government must posses political power which is a tool of rooting orderliness in a state. Continue reading Characteristics And Functions Of Government