Definition of Decentralization of Power | types, merits, demerits

Definition of Decentralization of Power, Types Decentralization of Power, Merits of Decentralization of Power, Demerits of Decentralization of Power.

Definition of decentralization of power:
Decentralization of power has to do with the sharing of power between the central government and other constituent units, within a political system. Powers are, therefore, distributed to these different units, thereby creating many centers of power.


For example, in a decentralized political system, powers are constitutionally shared between the central government and other constituent units, e.g. state and local governments. Details in power-sharing are fully discussed under the topic of a federal system of government. Nigeria, U.S.A., etc, have a decentralized political system.


There are two types of decentralization of power and they are:
1. Devolution
2. De-concentration.


Meaning: In this type of system, the central government may decide to set up or create constituent or subordinate levels of government
in different parts of the country, with powers to make decisions in specified areas as related to the locality. Britain is a good example.


Meaning: In this system, the central government
policies for the local areas appoint some officials with some powers and authority and delegates them to carry out specific functions thereby regulating government policies at the local government level. France is a good example.


The following are the merits of decentralization of power;

1. Quick development: Quick development is achieved in a decentralized system because in this system there is an opportunity for development. Every unit tends to develop even faster than others.

2. Competition among units in terms of development: In a federal state, there is competition among various units resulting in some states developing much better than others.

3. It brings the government nearer to the people: This is a credit to decentralization. The government is brought nearer to the people at the grassroots.

4. Absence of dictatorship: The supremacy of the constitution and the application of the rule of law removes the tendency for a dictatorial government.

5. Fear of domination: The fears of the minority are removed from the domination by the majority.

6. Wider consultation: Decentralization encourages wider consultation. No section of the country is neglected in the decision-making process.

7. Political Unity: Political unity is achieved because the system integrates many ethnic groups Within the same system.

8. Matters of local interest: With the division of functions made possible, matters of local interest can be allocated to the local areas.

9. It increases the efficiency of the government.

10. It reduces the workload of central
government, thereby increasing its efficiency.

11. It affords the leaders opportunity for from regional to central government leadership training e.g. leaders graduate positions.


1. Costly to operate: This system is costly to operate, because, many functions are created within the same system.

2. Delay in taking quick-decisions: The need for wider consultation, in the decision-making process, equally, makes for a delay, in taking quick decisions.

3. Differences in the level of development: The system does not make for even development since some units develop faster or and better than others.

4. Weak center: The center is weak because of the autonomy of the various units.

5. Duplication of positions in government: Functions in government are duplicated requiring too many hands in the process.

6. Sectionalism: Decentralization can breed sectionalism since the country is composed of different units, interest groups, beliefs, etc.

Also, read the meaning of centralization of power.

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