Constitution: Definition, Sources, Features And Functions (Importance)


Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Constitution
  • Sources Of Constitution
  • Importance/Functions Of A constitution

Definition Of Constitution

A constitution is the body of principles, laws, rules and regulations, norms or convention with collectively determined by the practice of government in any given state or community. It can be written as in the U.S.A , and Nigeria or unwritten as in the old oyo kingdom and Britain. A constitution can also be defined as a body of agreed rules and principles stating how the power of governing a country are given and how these powers are exercised. It also established a basic frame work on fundamental law of the land. By so doing, it checks and sets limited not only to the action of government but also to the actions of ordinary citizens. The constitution also states the rights, duties and obligations of the citizens.

Sources Of Constitution

The sources include:

1. Written Laws: These are laws written by some elected eminent citizens of the state. These law become a constitution after the government has approved them.

2. Statutes: These are law passed by legislature or parliament. Another name for this is ACT OF PARLIAMENT.

3. Charters: These are formal documents that deals with the right and privileges, the leaders and the bad they are not written in a separate document and leader referred to a constitution.

4. History Of The People: It is necessary that the history of the people should be considered in preparing the basic rules that governs their past. Political development do form a part of their history.

5. Convention: These are accepted political precepts and practices which often form a part of the instruments of a countries constitution.

6. Judicial Precedents: These are judgements law court on constitutional matters and they often form the basis for a new constitution.

Structures Of Constitution

1. The Preamble: A constitution contains a preamble which declares it aspiration.

2. The Political Structures: It states that the structures of government whether unitary or federal and at the same time defines the divisions of powers among the component units in the states.

3. The Political Institutions: The constitution also defines the powers and functions of these institutions such as the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government.

4. Types Of Relationship: It states the type of relationship that would exist among the institution of government (i.e) whether there would be separation of powers as in the presidential system of the U.S.A or fused separation of powers as in the parliament any system of Britain, together with necessary checks and balances.

5. The party System: The constitution also reveals the type of party system to adopt one party, two party or multi-party systems.

6. Type Of Administrative Structure: The constitution states the administrative structure that would be operated.

7. Fundamental Human Rights: It defines the rights of citizen, their duties and obligation’s to the state.

8. The Process Of Amendment: The constitution equally states the process by which it (the constitution) can be amended. This is very common with all rigid constitution where the methods of amendment are clearly stated.

9. Citizenship: It defines the qualification for citizenship. It states who the citizens of a country are and how citizenship can be acquired.

Functions/Importance/Scope Of Constitution

The functions are as follows:

1. It states the goals, purpose and aspiration of the leader in the state.

2. It defines the basic structures of government and other organisations established by the state.

3. It protects and promote the fundamental human right of the citizens.

4. It defines the separation of powers among the organs of government and also explain their functions.

5. It spells out the methods of amending it’s original form.

6. It serves as a symbol of nationalism and sovereignty.

7. It is strictly applied in final arbitrational over legislative disputes or mis-understanding.

8. It explains the dos and don’ts of the government and the government (i.e) the citizens.

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