The word “Demo” and “kratia” which form democracy simply mean people and government respectively. Democracy as a form of government has its origin in certain cities of ancient Greece where the whole body of adult male formed the legislature. There was no separation of power and all officials were fully responsible to the popular assembly which can act in executive, judicial and legislative matters.

        To understand the meaning of democracy, we need to look into the definition of democracy as given by Abraham Lincoln. He defined it as the “Government of the people,by the people and for the people”. In democracy, the supreme power is retained and directly exercised by the people.

        Democracy is a form of government in which people elect representatives of their choice who in turn govern on behalf of the people providing masses the freedom of expression and choice.

      It is a system that goes through the electoral process which then enables the government to become accountable.

                  TYPES OF DEMOCRACY

1. DIRECT DEMOCRACY: This refers to a system of government in which all the citizens gather at a particular place for the purpose of governing the country through discussion and consent on major issues.

2. INDIRECT DEMOCRACY: Here, representatives are elected to take care of interest of people in government.

3. DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY: Which is also called discursive democracy believes that public deliberation and not voting should be the primary source of law’s legitimacy.


1. RULE OF LAW: The principles of rule of law are applied in democratic societies. There is equality before the law, supremacy of the construction and so on.

2. PERIODIC FREE AND FAIR ELECTION: Under democracy, elections are held from time to time to elect leaders. For instance, different elections have been held in Nigeria before and after 1999 election.

3. FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS: Rights of citizens are promoted and guaranteed. The law frowns at human right abuse and punishes the offenders. In Nigeria, the Human Rights Commission ensures that citizens enjoy their fundamental human rights.

4. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS: Under democracy, the print and electonic media are allowed to write and express their opinions. They are allowed to constructively criticize government policies for the progress of the nation.

5. TOLERANCE OF OPPOSITION: In a true democratic settings, oppositions are allowed. People are allowed to express their views about government policies without being intimidated or molested.

6. PARTY SYSTEM: Democracy allows the emergence of political parties which compete for power during election. Nigeria for instance, has many political parties which present candidates for various political offices during elections.

7. UNIVERSAL ADULT SUFFRAGE: The choice and opportunity is available to all the citizens on an equal basis without any discrimination on the basis of gender, colour etc. The policy of one person, one vote and one value should be followed in a democracy.

                CLASS TEST

1. ______________ defined democracy as the government of the people for the people and by the people.

2. “Demo”and “kratia”means __________ and _____________.

3. In democracy, elections are held from time to time. True/False.

4. List and explain two types of democracy.


Discuss five (5) democratic institutions in Nigeria.