Glossary of Government Terms & Definitions

Glossary of Government Terms & Definitions

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Contained in this glossary of government terms is a list of definitions of fundamental terms and concepts used in the study of government, which is studied in secondary schools and tertiary institutions as a subject or course, which involves the study of political theories, concepts, comparative government, local government, public administration, etc. that help in governance.

a
  • amalgamate - combine or unite to form one organization or structure.
  • arbitrariness - An arbitrary rule, action or decision often seems unfair because it is not based on any principle, plan or system. An arbitrary legal judgment is…
  • assimilation policy - Assimilation policies are based on the idea that immigrants should adopt the language, customs, and values of the national majorities, and abandon their own cultural…
  • autonomy - Autonomy is the control or government of a country, organization, or group by itself rather than by others.
b
  • backdating - This is the practice of marking a legally binding document, with a date that is prior to what it should be. Backdating is usually disallowed…
  • bicameralism - Bicameralism or Bicameral Legislature is a legislative system where two legislative chambers exist to carry out legislative functions in a state, the lower chamber and…
  • bureaucracy - The term bureaucracy refers to a system of government in which most of the important decisions are taken by state officials rather than by elected…
  • by-law - By-law is a rule established by an organization, council or board to regulate its activities and manage internal affairs. Local governments may use bylaws for…
c
  • carpet crossing - This is an act of swapping political parties. It is an act of changing party allegiance or moving from one party to another. It is…
  • checks and balances - In Nigeria, the principle of checks and balances helps to ensure that no single branch of government (executive, legislative, or judicial) becomes too powerful.
  • commune - a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities.
  • constitution - A constitution is a set of fundamental rules that determine how a country or state is run.
d
  • decree - A decree is an official order given by a government or by a person with power. For example, the president can issue a decree making…
  • due process - Due process is the carrying out of legal matters according to established rules and principles and that individuals be treated fairly and their rights respected.
e
  • edict - In Nigeria, the military rules the people through decrees and edicts. Laws passed by the central government during military regimes are known as decrees while…
  • electorate - all the people in a country or area who are entitled to vote in an election.
  • executive - The executive, also referred to as the executive branch or executive power, is the term commonly used to describe that part of government which enforces…
g
  • gerrymandering - Gerrymandering constituencies is the process of dividing or arranging constituencies to favour a particular political party or candidate in the election.
i
  • impeachment - Impeachment is the process of bringing charges against a government official for wrongdoing. A trial may be held, and the official may be removed from…
  • indigénat policy - This policy stated that West Africans could be arrested and detained for two years without trial by the French administrators. It was an obnoxious policy…
j
  • judicial precedent - Judicial precedent is the process whereby judges follow previously decided cases where the facts are of sufficient similarity. It t refers to the legal principle…
  • jurisdiction - Jurisdiction is the official power to make legal decisions, and enforce laws and judgements. or A jurisdiction is a state or other area in which…
l
  • land tenure - Land tenure means the act of acquiring land either by an individual, family, community or government, temporarily or permanently. It determines who can use land,…
  • land use Act of 1978 - The land use Act of 1978 is a reform essentially aimed at encouraging proper, productive and efficient use of land. It abolished the existing land…
  • legislative - The legislative branch of government is responsible for making laws within a country. Legislatures are made up of people called legislators who, in democracies, are…
m
  • mace - The mace is a symbol of the authority of National Assembly. It is carried into the Chamber by the Serjeant-at-Arms and announces the arrival of…
  • mandamus - A mandamus is an order passed down from a court requiring that an official perform some particular function as an absolute duty.
n
  • nepotism - Nepotism is the act of granting an advantage, privilege, or position to relatives or close friends in an occupation or field. These fields may include…
  • non-partisan - A person or group that is non-partisan does not support or help a particular political party or group.
  • norm - A norm is a rule, standard, or pattern for action. Social norm refers to shared standards of acceptable behaviour by a group of people. The…
o
  • ordinance - a law or rule made by a government or authority.
  • organs of government - The 3 branches of government are executive, judicial, and legislative. Executive The executive is the organ that implements the laws enacted by the legislature and…
p
  • prorogue - to end or discontinue a session of parliament without dissolving it and calling new elections.
  • protectorate - A protectorate is a state or country that’s protected by a larger, stronger one. Protectorate is another word for “protected state.” A country defends its…
r
  • ratification - the act of voting on a decision or signing a written agreement to make it official.
  • revenue allocation - In Nigeria, revenue allocation refers to the practice where the federal government shares a part of the revenue it generates with state and local governments.…
s
  • secession - the action of withdrawing formally from membership of a federation or body, especially a political state.
  • separation of powers - This refers to the division of a democratic government into different arms of government, i.e the Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary, each to perform their administrative…
  • social amenities - Social amenities, or public amenities, refer to places, buildings or infrastructural facilities which are to be shared and to become convergence spots for the local…
  • sovereign - Sovereign has everything to do with power. It often describes a person who has supreme power or authority, such as a king or queen.
  • sovereign state - A sovereign state is a state that has the highest authority over a territory. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, a…
  • sovereignty - Sovereignty is a political concept that refers to dominant power or supreme authority. In a monarchy, supreme power resides in the “sovereign”, or king. In…
  • subsidy - A subsidy is a benefit given by the government to groups or individuals, usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction. If…
  • supremacy of the constitution - Supremacy of the constitution simply means the constitution which is the law of the land is above everybody in the country. The doctrine means that…
t
  • tyrannical rule - A tyrannical ruler wields absolute power and authority and often wields that power unjustly, cruelly, or oppressively.
u
  • ultra vires - Ultra vires translates to ‘beyond the powers’. It is used to describe an act which requires legal authority or power but is then completed outside…
  • unicameralism - Unicameralism is a type of legislature consisting of one house or assembly that legislates and votes as one.
  • unilateral action - Unilateral action refers to the different types of administrative and policy changes that the President can initiate on his own without any approval. It refers…
v
  • veto - A veto is an official power or right to refuse to accept or allow something. It can also be defined as a legal power to…
  • vote of no confidence - a vote showing that a majority does not support the policy of a leader or governing body.
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