Federal And Unitary Forms Of Government In A Plural Society By Lakshani Perera

Successive federal governments have maintained the stranglehold on power, justified by the aim of providing a political solution to the disunity and deep divisions that have existed since the unification decree was passed. The result has been the creation of a gargantuan political entity with a concentration of powers at the center and underdeveloped states. In a unitary state, the central or national government has complete authority over all other political divisions or administrative units. For example, the Republic of France is a unitary state in which the French national government in Paris has total authority over several provinces, known as departments, which are the subordinate administrative components of the nation-state. The local governments of a unitary state carry out the directives of the central government, but they do not act independently.

Unlike a unitary system, neither level of government can be abolished or reformed without the consent of the other. In the United States, for example, the federal government cannot abolish California or reform its borders without the consent of California. Unitary Government is a system of government in which all governmental authority is vested in a central government.

Against this backdrop, various quarters have called for a restructuring of the country. While some of these calls are colored by politics, what is apparent is that as long as the federal government maintains its range of exclusive powers, the country’s structural problems will remain. At present, a gradual reversal is taking place, with increasing pushback for state-controlled police forces and pressure for greater devolution to the states, as illustrated by aconstitutional amendmentbeing considered in the National Assembly. To construct a more effective federal system, Nigeria should ditch its unitary preoccupation and equitably distribute power to the states, leaving with them the fiscal autonomy needed to catalyze economic growth—thereby improving prospects for peace and development. The United Kingdom traditionally has been a unitary state with power heavily centralized in London. In that system local governments exist but are created and controlled by central government statute.

Not only are municipal average and median sizes low in several OECD countries, but a fair number countries may also have a high proportion of very small municipalities, either in terms of population, geographic area, or both. In the Czech Republic, France and the Slovak Republic, more than 85% of municipalities have fewer than inhabitants (Figure 2.8). Competing definitions of decentralisation, its multi-dimensional nature and the heterogeneity of experiences on the ground explain the great difficulty in actually measuring decentralisation.

Before Congress acted to rid the Republic of asbestos, the great majority of states already had programs to find and remove the potentially hazardous substance. Environmental Protection Agency promulgated expensive new rules to curb lead poisoning, state and municipal code enforcement departments were also working to eliminate this danger to the public health. To spend, these governments have to tax—and that unpleasant requirement supposedly disciplines profligate politicians. Presumably few jurisdictions will indulge in lavish social programs that are magnets for dependents from neighboring jurisdictions, and that could cause overtaxed residents and businesses to exit.