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Structures of Governance – Free JAMB Tutorial on Government

This Government Tutorial will focus on the Structures of Governance. At the end of the tutorial, you can download it for FREE. Please share this page with your friends who may need it.

Governance structures refer to the framework and mechanisms through which organizations, institutions, or societies make decisions, set policies, and manage their affairs.

This tutorial will cover three main types of government structures: UNITARY, FEDERAL, and CONFEDERAL.

For each of the government structures, we will tell you the features, reasons for adoption, merits, and demerits.

At the end of the tutorial, we expect that you should be able to compare the various political structures of governance.

Let’s get started already.

Unitary Governance Structure

A unitary government structure is a system in which all political power and authority are concentrated at the central or national level, and regional or local governments derive their powers from the central government.

In other words, the central government has the ultimate authority and can delegate powers to lower levels of government at its discretion.

Examples of countries practicing Unitary governance are China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, etc.

Here are some key features, reasons for adoption, as well as merits and demerits of a unitary government structure:

Features of Unitary Government:

  1. Centralized Power: In a unitary system, the central government holds significant power, and regional or local governments have limited autonomy.
  2. Unified Legal System: There is typically a single legal system that applies uniformly across the entire country, as laws are often enacted by the central government.
  3. Single Constitution: Unitary states usually have a single constitution that outlines the distribution of powers between the central government and lower levels of government.
  4. Flexible Governance: The central government has the authority to change the administrative divisions and the powers of local governments without the need for constitutional amendments.

Reasons for Adoption:

  1. National Unity: Unitary systems are often adopted in countries with diverse populations to promote national unity and avoid fragmentation along regional lines.
  2. Efficiency: Centralized decision-making can lead to more efficient governance, especially in times of crisis, as the central government can respond quickly without waiting for regional approval.
  3. Reduced Administrative Costs: Unitary systems may result in lower administrative costs compared to federal systems, as there is a single, streamlined administrative structure.

Merits of Unitary Government:

  1. Clear Hierarchy: The chain of command is clear, as the central government holds ultimate authority, making decision-making and governance more straightforward.
  2. Consistency: Policies and laws are uniformly applied across the entire country, promoting consistency and uniformity.
  3. Quick Decision-Making: Centralized decision-making allows for prompt and decisive actions in emergencies or situations requiring rapid response.

Demerits of Unitary Government:

  1. Lack of Local Autonomy: Regions or local governments may feel that they have limited control over their own affairs, which can lead to dissatisfaction and potential tensions.
  2. Inflexibility: Unitary systems may struggle to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of different regions within the country.
  3. Risk of Authoritarianism: Concentration of power at the central level may increase the risk of authoritarianism or abuse of power, as there are fewer checks and balances.

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Federal Governance Structure

A federal government structure is a system in which power and authority are divided between a central (national) government and regional (state or provincial) government.

Each level of government has its own set of powers and responsibilities, and there is a constitution that outlines the distribution of authority between them.

Examples of countries practicing Federal governance are The United States, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, etc.

Here are the key features, reasons for adoption, as well as merits and demerits of a federal government structure:

Features of Federal Government:

  1. Division of Powers: The constitution clearly delineates powers between the central and regional governments. Certain powers are exclusive to each level, while others may be shared or concurrent.
  2. Independent Jurisdiction: Regional governments have their own jurisdictions and powers, and they can exercise authority over matters assigned to them by the constitution.
  3. Dual Legal System: Federal systems often have a dual legal system, where there are laws at both the central and regional levels, each applicable within its own sphere.
  4. Written Constitution: Federal countries typically have a written constitution that serves as the supreme law of the land, defining the powers of each level of government and protecting individual rights.

Reasons for Adoption:

  1. Diversity: Federal systems are often adopted in countries with diverse populations, allowing different regions to have a degree of autonomy to address their unique cultural, linguistic, and economic differences.
  2. Decentralization: Federalism promotes decentralization of power, enabling local governments to have a say in their own affairs and make decisions that are more responsive to local needs.
  3. Protection Against Tyranny: The distribution of powers between central and regional governments can serve as a check against the concentration of power, preventing the abuse of authority.

Merits of Federal Government:

  1. Local Autonomy: Regional governments have the autonomy to make decisions on issues that directly affect their constituents, promoting a sense of local governance.
  2. Flexibility: Federal systems can adapt to the diverse needs of different regions, allowing for flexibility in governance and policy implementation.
  3. Political Stability: Federalism can contribute to political stability by accommodating regional diversity and preventing conflicts arising from centralized control.

Demerits of Federal Government:

  1. Coordination Challenges: Coordination between different levels of government can be complex and may lead to inefficiencies, especially if there is disagreement on policies or priorities.
  2. Inconsistency in Policies: The existence of multiple jurisdictions can result in variations in laws and policies between regions, which may lead to inconsistencies.
  3. Risk of Secession: In extreme cases, federalism can lead to regionalism and the risk of secession, where regions seek independence from the central government.

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Confederal Governance Structure

A confederal government structure is a system in which individual states or regions retain most of their sovereignty and delegate limited powers to a central authority.

Unlike federalism, where there is a clear division of powers between central and regional governments, a confederation is characterized by a loose association of sovereign states that come together for specific purposes.

Here are some confederate government examples:

  • Serbia and Montenegro (2003-06), split into separate countries.
  • German Confederation (1815-1866), formed a federation.
  • Switzerland (1292-1848), formed a federation.
  • Holy Roman Empire
  • Belgium

Here are the key features, reasons for adoption, as well as merits and demerits of a confederal government structure:

Features of Confederal Government:

  1. Sovereign States: Member states in a confederation retain a high degree of sovereignty and authority. The central government’s powers are limited to those explicitly delegated by the member states.
  2. Voluntary Association: States join the confederation voluntarily and can withdraw from it at their discretion. The association is typically based on a treaty or agreement among sovereign entities.
  3. Limited Central Authority: The central government’s authority is typically confined to specific matters agreed upon by the member states, such as defense, foreign affairs, or trade.
  4. Decentralized Decision-Making: Decision-making authority rests primarily with the individual member states rather than a central governing body.

Reasons for Adoption:

  1. Preservation of Sovereignty: Confederal systems are adopted when states or regions are reluctant to cede significant powers to a central authority and prefer to maintain control over their own affairs.
  2. Flexibility: A confederation allows member states to cooperate on certain issues while retaining the flexibility to pursue their own policies in other areas.
  3. Limited Government: Member states may prefer a limited central government that only handles specific common concerns, avoiding excessive interference in local matters.

Merits of Confederal Government:

  1. Sovereignty Preservation: Member states retain a high degree of sovereignty and have significant control over their internal affairs.
  2. Flexibility and Adaptability: The confederal structure allows for flexibility, as member states can adapt to changing circumstances without the need for unanimous agreement.
  3. Decentralized Decision-Making: Decisions are made closer to the people, reflecting local preferences and allowing for tailored governance.

Demerits of Confederal Government:

  1. Coordination Challenges: Coordination among member states can be challenging, leading to inefficiencies, particularly in responding to shared challenges that require collective action.
  2. Weak Central Authority: The limited powers of the central government may hinder its ability to address issues that require coordinated and centralized action.
  3. Risk of Dissolution: The voluntary nature of a confederation means that member states can withdraw, potentially leading to the dissolution of the confederation in times of disagreement or crisis.

That’s all we have for you here. Now it’s question time. We want to know if you really understood everything that was taught.

Practice Questions on Structures of Governance

  1. In a unitary government system, where does the ultimate authority reside?
    A. Regional governments
    B. Local governments
    C. Central government
    D. Constitutional court
  2. What is a characteristic feature of federal systems that distinguishes them from unitary systems?
    A. Centralized power
    B. Sovereign states
    C. Unified legal system
    D. Quick decision-making
  3. Which of the following is a defining feature of confederal systems?
    A. Unified legal system
    B. Centralized power
    C. Decentralized decision-making
    D. Limited sovereignty
  4. What is a common reason for the adoption of federal systems and confederal systems?
    A. National unity
    B. Preservation of sovereignty
    C. Centralized decision-making
    D. Reduced administrative costs
  5. In a unitary system, how are powers distributed between the central and regional governments?
    A. Shared equally
    B. Central government retains all powers
    C. Decided by an independent tribunal
    D. Regional governments have exclusive powers
  6. What distinguishes regional governments in a federal system?
    A. Limited autonomy
    B. Unified jurisdiction
    C. Independent jurisdiction
    D. Direct control by the central government
  7. Which type of government structure typically relies on a written constitution to define the distribution of powers?
    A. Unitary
    B. Federal
    C. Confederal
    D. Both B and C
  8. Why might confederal systems be considered more adaptable than unitary systems?
    A. Limited central authority
    B. Strong regional control
    C. Clear hierarchy
    D. Consistency in policies
  9. What potential risk is associated with federal governance structures?
    A. Lack of local autonomy
    B. Coordination challenges
    C. Risk of authoritarianism
    D. Inflexibility
  10. In which government structure is decision-making often decentralized and closer to local preferences?
    A. Unitary
    B. Federal
    C. Confederal
    D. Both A and B
  11. Which government structure allows member states to withdraw voluntarily?
    A. Unitary
    B. Federal
    C. Confederal
    D. Both A and B
  12. How does federalism contribute to political stability?
    A. Through centralized decision-making
    B. By promoting regionalism
    C. By accommodating regional diversity
    D. Through risk of secession
  13. Which government structure often relies on a single constitution for the entire country?
    A. Unitary
    B. Federal
    C. Confederal
    D. Both B and C
    Response to Crisis:
  14. 14 Why might a unitary government be considered more efficient in responding to emergencies?
    A. Limited central authority
    B. Decentralized decision-making
    C. Quick decision-making
    D. Clear hierarchy
  15. What is a potential disadvantage of federal systems related to policies?
    A. Lack of local autonomy
    B. Consistency in policies
    C. Inflexibility
    D. Coordination challenges

Make sure you have attempted these questions. Write down your answers on a sheet of paper and compare them with the answers below.

THINK & ACT : If we can give you this for FREE, imagine what we can give if you pay and join the ALLSCHOOL JAMB Online Lesson. In the lesson, our hardworking tutors ensure they only teach you things that will come out in JAMB, so you’ll score extremely high in JAMB. Click Here to join the ALLSCHOOL JAMB Online Lesson NOW.

Answers to Practice Questions on Structures of Governance

  1. Answer: C. Central government
    • Explanation: In a unitary system, the central government holds ultimate authority.
  2. Answer: B. Sovereign states
    • Explanation: Federal systems are characterized by the division of powers between central and regional governments.
  3. Answer: B. Centralized power
    • Explanation: Centralized power is a feature of unitary systems, not confederal systems.
  4. Answer: B. Preservation of sovereignty
    • Explanation: Both federal and confederal systems are adopted to preserve the sovereignty of member states.
  5. Answer: B. Central government retains all powers
    • Explanation: In a unitary system, the central government holds significant power, and regional governments have limited autonomy.
  6. Answer: C. Independent jurisdiction
    • Explanation: Regional governments in a federal system have their own jurisdictions and powers.
  7. Answer: B. Federal
    • Explanation: Federal and confederal systems typically rely on a written constitution to define the distribution of powers.
  8. Answer: A. Limited central authority
    • Explanation: Limited central authority allows for flexibility and adaptability in confederal systems.
  9. Answer: B. Coordination challenges
    • Explanation: Coordination challenges are a potential disadvantage of federal systems.
  10. Answer: D. Both A and B
    • Explanation: Decision-making in federal systems is often decentralized, and confederal systems emphasize strong regional control.
  11. Answer: C. Confederal
    • Explanation: Confederal systems allow member states to withdraw voluntarily.
  12. Answer: C. By accommodating regional diversity
    • Explanation: Federalism contributes to political stability by accommodating diverse regional needs.
  13. Answer: A. Unitary
    • Explanation: Unitary states usually have a single constitution.
  14. Answer: C. Quick decision-making
    • Explanation: Centralized decision-making in unitary systems allows for prompt actions in emergencies.
  15. Answer: B. Consistency in policies
    • Explanation: In federal systems, the existence of multiple jurisdictions can lead to variations and inconsistencies in laws and policies between regions.

Now how many did you score? If you scored 12 and above, you’re great! If you scored below 11, you tried but we advise you to take your time and go through everything we taught you again.

THINK & ACT : If we can give you this for FREE, imagine what we can give if you pay and join the ALLSCHOOL JAMB Online Lesson. In the lesson, our hardworking tutors ensure they only teach you things that will come out in JAMB, so you’ll score extremely high in JAMB. Click Here to join the ALLSCHOOL JAMB Online Lesson NOW.

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