Meaning And Definition Of Centralization And Decentralization (Government)

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Centralization
  • Factors Or Conditions That Give rise To The Adoption Of Centralization Of Power
  • Merits Of Centralization
  • Demerits Of Centralization
  • Meaning Of Decentralization
  • Forms Of Decentralization
  • Reasons For The Adoption Of Decentralization
  • Merits Of Decentralization
  • Demerits Of Decentralization.

Meaning Of Centralization

The term centralization refes to a system of governmental administration in which power is concentrated in one single central authority. In such a centralised system of government, there is no constittional provision for the shaaring of governmental powers between the single central authority and any other body but powers can be delegated to subordinate bodies.

The highest degree of centralization is achieved
in unitary states. In such a unitary state, there is only one legislature, one executive and one judiciary; local authorities that exist in a centralized state are created by the central authority that delegate powers to them. Unitary states like: Britain, Italy, France, etc, are example of centralization of governmental administration.

Factors Or Conditions That Give Rise To The Adoption Of Centralization Of Power

These factors include; the size of the country, absence of tribal differences, lack of fear of domination, common languuage and culture, lack of marked economic inequalities, absence of minority groups and strong loyalty to the central government.

Merits Of Centralization

They include; stronger and stable goernment reduction in cost, quicker decisions are made, promotion of national unity, uniformity in the level of development, it removes fricrtions, fosters spirit of oneness, no double loyalty, it has flexible constitution, avoidss waste of human and material resourced, simple to operate and it is less bureaucratic.

Demerits Of Centralization

The demerits of unitary government are encouragement of dictatorship, the central government is over-burdened, prevention of local auutonomy, government is kept far away from the people, it kills local initiatives, does not suit large territories, leads to domination of minority groups, it causes dissatisfaction, is prone to political instability, it does not encourage wider representation and does not create more employment opportunities and they also apply favourably to centralization as its demerits.

Meaning Of Decentralization

The term decentralization refers to a system of government administration in which powers are not concentrated in a single central authority but shared among component regional and local units or states distinct from the central government. Powers allocated to different authorities are clearly specified in a written constitution. There are areas of authority such as foreign affairs, defence, currency, immigration and emigration eyc. That are reserved exclusively for the central authority and are known in the constitution as the exclusive lists. Decentralization exists in federal structure. Federal states such as U.S.A., Nigeria, Federal Republic of Germany etc, are examples of decentralization of government administration.

Forms Of Decentralization

a. Devolution:

This is a system of administration in which semi- autonomous regional governments are created with defined powers and functions but subordinate to the central government. This type if administration applies with unitary government in which the country may be split into units for administrative convenience. South Africa and Northern Ireland are examples of devolutionary government.

b. Deconcentration:

This refers to a system of administration in which powers are shared in such a way that the component states are not directly subordinate to the central authority.

Reasons For The Adoption Of Decentralization

The factors include; fear of domination, tribal differences protection of the interest of the minority groups, the size of the country, for rapid and even development, to bring government nearer the people, to expand local markets, for easy and effective government, etc.

Merit Of Decentralization

They are; political unity, faster development, encouragement of healthy competition, it brings government nearer the people, prevention of the emergence of a dictator, it allays fear of domination, it guarantees wider consultation, etc.

Demerits Of Decentralization

They include; inter-state friction, it breeds sectional consciousness, unnecessary duplication of organs of government, it is expensive to operate, difficult in taking quick decisions, it creates weak centre, problem of coordination, disparity in the level of development, etc.

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