Decentralization 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 centres 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 federal system of government. Nigeria, U.S.A ., etc, have decentralized political system.
TYPES OF DECENTRALISATION
There are two types of decentralization and they are:
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.
In this system, the central government sets policies for the local areas, appoints 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.
Merits of Decentralization
- Quick development: Quick development is achieved in a decentralized system because in this system there is opportunity for development. Every unit has the tendency to develop even faster than others.
- Competition among units in terms of development: In a federal state, there are competition among various units resulting in some states developing much better than others.
- It brings government nearer to the people: This is a credit to decentralization. Government is brought nearer to the people at the grassroots.
- Absence of dictatorship: The supremacy of the constitution and the application of the rule of law removes the tendency for a dictatorial government.
- Fear of domination: The fears of the minority are removed from the domination by the majority.
- Wider consultation: Decentralization encourages wider consultation. No section of the country is neglected in the decisionmaking process.
- Political Unity: Political unity is achieved because the system integrate many ethnic groups within the same system.
- Matters of local interest: With the division of functions made possible, matters of local interest can be allocated to the local areas.
- It increases efficiency of government.
- It reduces the work load of central government, thereby increasing its efficiency.
- It affords the leaders opportunity for leadership training e.g. leaders graduate from regional to central government positions.
- Greater Participation: Decentralization enhances greater participation of the people in government.
- Political Stability: The system encourages political stability because the various components are well represented in government.
Demerits of decentralisation
- Costly to operate: This system is costly to operate, because, many functions are created within the same system.
- Delay in taking quick-decisions: The need for a wider consultation, in decisionmaking process, equally, makes for a delay, in taking quick decision.
- Differences in the level of development: The system does not make for even development since some units develop faster and better than others.
- Weak centre: The centre is weak because of the autonomy of the various units.
- Duplication of positions in government: Functions in government are duplicated requiring too many hands in the process.
- Sectionalism: Decentralization can breed sectionalism since the country is composed of different units, interest groups, beliefs, etc.