Meaning and Types of Constituted Authority

Meaning and Types of Constituted Authority

In any sane society, or at least the ideal society, you would find one thing constant, and that is the different types of constituted authority. Their chief duty is to maintain law and order. Constituted authority might indeed differ from society to society; nonetheless, the importance of their role still shines through.

The constituted authority could either be conferred as a result of one’s charisma or noteworthy achievements or inherited like the monarchical system of kings and queens or elected by voting. Whichever the legal means are, all constituted authorities are mandated to provide useful leadership for their followers.

Moreso, any country where the rules and regulations are upheld is only a testament to the excellent work that the constituted authority of that country is doing irrespective of it being a republican form of government or confederal system of government.

Because of this, in this article, we will be delving into the types of constituted authority and their expected roles in society. However, before we get into that, we must look at the meaning of constituted authority.

Meaning of Constituted Authority

Far from what you might have thought, constituted authority isn’t some abstract term. It does refer to living beings, real-life people. Constituted authority is just a group of people who have been bestowed with legal rights, specifically, the right to be voted for, which is one of the fundamental human rights, and gives them the liberty to rule over other people in a particular society for the general well-being of that society.

They need not be stronger than the people they are ruling. Albeit, they have an office that confers upon their authority. Very importantly, this authority isn’t a blanket type, constituted authority as the word, constituted, implies, the authority is confined by the constitution or rules binding or operational in that society.

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Even more, the constituted authority has a timeline for its leadership, though the ranges differ within the different types of constituted authority. The implication here is that the people who are elected into the offices of authority, just like in the democratic authority which we would see later, would want to be elected again, so to win the support of the electorates, they put in every effort to lead well at their first term.

Types of Constituted Authority

Types of Constituted Authority

Democratic Authority

Among the types of constituted authority, democratic authority appears to be the most popular, especially in Nigeria. Presently, Nigeria, on a federal scope, is operating on the democratic type of authority which have seen many presidents of Nigeria and leaders energe. Democratic authority is the rulership of people by the people for the people. 

This means that the people who rule aren’t different in any way from the people who they rule, except, of course, for the fact they are occupying the office of constituted authority. Now, there is quite a more significant measure of accountability that isn’t seen in other types of constituted authority. 

Since those who occupy the office of authority were elected, if they fail to meet the demands of those who elected them, they risk incurring their wrath. Such was seen in the 2015 Presidential elections when for the first time in history, a ruling party was defeated at the federal level.

Traditional Authority

The idea of traditional authority as one of the types of constitutional authority is popularized in many African societies where we have the likes of Obas, Emirs, Obis, Sultans, and Baales occupying a throne. With traditional authority, leadership is, more often, an inheritance that is passed on in the family, and sometimes it is conferred upon.

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Nonetheless, this leadership style has been abused since these traditional leaders are rarely accountable to their subjects. The best the rotten eggs among them get is a sanction, which in the long run is only but a slap in the wrist.

Bureaucratic Authority

This type of constituted authority is also known as red-tapism, and it is seen in government parastatals like the civil service. Like the other types of constituted authority, bureaucratic authority is set up to achieve beneficial goals for the parties involved. 

However, the downside of bureaucratic authority is the fact that too many formalities restrict the flow of organizational tasks. As a result, things that are supposed to be achieved within a short time take a longer time to the detriment of everyone in the organization.

Charismatic Authority

You could also refer to charismatic authority as religious authority. This authority is often conferred upon persons who have proven character and are well respected in public.

Imams, Pastors, Chief Priests and Bishops are examples of the titles that are given to those who have charismatic authority. The followers are expected to respect them; failure to do so, would portend divine wrath.

Importance of Constituted Authority

Having established the meaning of constituted authority, we followed up on what constituted authority is about with the types of constituted authority we can see in our everyday society. In the subsequent paragraphs, we will look at the vital roles the types of constituted authority play.

One very striking benefit of having constituted authority is preserving cultural heritage. This is one role that traditional authorities play very well. The identities of many societies are locked in their culture. The erosion of this culture means the end of such societies. In a way, Obis, Emirs, and Obas are cultural gatekeepers.

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Another importance that many can easily relate to will have to be the maintenance of law and order. Democratic constituted authorities are responsible for this. It is one thing to formulate laws a country must live by; it is yet another thing to implement these laws and ensure they are followed to the letter.

For the Charismatic constituted authority, their spiritual oversight can prove invaluable for the people they are privileged to lead. Followers who are firm adherents of their values always have a sense of direction and purpose.


So much has been said about constituted authorities, from the meaning of constituted authority to the types of constituted authority, before we finally added the icing to the cake with the importance of constituted authority. We believe that reading this article has equipped you with a greater appreciation for those who are constituted authorities and, of course, how you can make their responsibilities easier for them with your cooperation and submission.

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