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  1. Fundamental Human Right and Representative Government | Week 1
    5 Topics
    1 Quiz
  2. Separation of Power and Checks and Balances | Week 2
    4 Topics
    1 Quiz
  3. Constitution | Week 3
    5 Topics
    2 Quizzes
  4. Citizenship | Week 4 & 5
    5 Topics
    1 Quiz
  5. Political Parties | Week 6
    5 Topics
    1 Quiz
  6. Party System | Week 7
    5 Topics
    2 Quizzes
  7. Pressure Groups | Week 8
    5 Topics
    1 Quiz

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Written and Unwritten Constitution: Meaning, Reason For Adoption, Merit, and Demerits.

Written Constitution:

Written constitution is a constitution that is contained and published in a single document.

Federal Constitution is written and rigid. Most modern states operate written constitutions. Countries that operate written constitutions include Nigeria, Liberia, the USA, and South Africa.

Reasons for Adoption of Written Constitution:

(i) It is easy to refer to a constitution that is written. It’s easily available for verification.

(ii) Written Constitution prevents confusion and uncertainty in the exercise of powers of each organ of government had it not been written.

(iii) Written constitution is available in a single document, therefore can easily be obtained.

(iv) Both educated and laymen can reach it.

(v) It can be amended or changed by following appropriate procedures.

(vi) It makes it easy to identify unconstitutional acts by everybody in the state.

(vii) It makes it easy for citizens to know when their rights are violated.

(viii) It prevents the possible emergence of dictatorial rule.

(ix) It is a symbol of the state. It is one of the national symbols.

(x) It clearly defines the powers and functions of each organ of government.

Merits of Written Constitution:

(i) Written constitution can be referred to.

(ii) It reduces conflict among levels or institutions of government as the constitution specifies its powers and functions.

(iii) It prevents the dictatorship of the leaders as the constitution clearly specifies the powers, functions, and tenure of political leaders.

(iv) It is a symbol of the nation, one of the state’s national symbols.

(v) Written constitution is rigid and difficult to manipulate the amendment process.

(vi) It makes it easy for the citizens to know their rights, obligations, and duties in the state.

(vii) It can easily be obtained. It’s available to all.

(viii) Guarantees Fundamental human rights.

Demerits of Written Constitution:

(i) The amendment procedure is difficult and cumbersome. The amendments are also time-consuming.

(ii) As the constitution is difficult to amend, changing situations and emergencies may not be adequately taken care of.

(iii) It is limited in content and scope as the law governing a state cannot all be put down in a single document.

(iv) Different people may give different interpretations to provisions of the constitution. This breeds conflicts and frequent litigation in courts.

Unwritten Constitution:

An unwritten constitution is a body of rules and regulations governing the affairs of a state that is not contained in a single document. Rather the provision of such a constitution is found in several documents, agreements, Charters, Court Verdicts, Parliamentary Resolutions, Political Precepts, and Practices.

In addition are customs and traditions of the people and conventions. An unwritten constitution is flexible. Most of such constitutions are in the form of conventions and precedents.

Countries that operate Unwritten Constitution include Britain, Newzeland, Israel, and Canada.

Merits Of Unwritten Constitution:

(i) It can easily be amended.

(ii) It is adaptable to changing conditions and emergencies.

(iii) The areas of conflict due to interpretation of an unwritten constitution are reduced because of its flexible nature.

(iv) It promotes political stability as its flexible nature enhances smooth governance.

(v) It enhances quick decision making and implementation due to its flexible nature.

Demerits of Unwritten Constitution:

(i) Unwritten constitutions can be manipulated by political leaders.

(ii) It may deprive the citizens of knowing their rights and duties.

(iii) Citizen’s rights may not be guaranteed and it can also undermine the ability of citizens to seek redress in court.

(iv) It is susceptible to misinterpretation due to ambiguities.

(v) Unconstitutional acts may not be ascertained.

(vi) There may be a possibility of conflicts arising among the arms of government over unclear cut specifications of powers and functions.

(vii) It is not suitable for a multi-ethnic or heterogeneous society (where ethnic groups are suspicious of one another).


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