The 3 Tiers Of Government, Function and Differences

Distinctions Between The Different Tiers Of the Nigerian Government

The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria outlines the functions and boundaries of authority with clarity. Despite the fact that they appear similar in certain respects, the three levels of government differ in numerous ways. Their duties, legislative powers, executive powers, combined powers, unique powers, and residual powers reflect their differences.

The 3 Tiers Of Government, Function and Differences


The three (3) levels of governance are:

  • The federal or central government
  • The state government
  • The local government
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Differences Between The 3 Tiers Of the Government


1. Functions

The federal government, like the states and local governments, performs certain obligations, but the federal government’s functions involve the entire country, including the states and local governments.
Through the military and police, the federal government secures the entire nation against foreign threats and maintains peace and order inside the states and local governments. The federal government also gives funds to the states and local governments for the purpose of paying salaries and carrying out development initiatives. Each of the federal ministries in the federal capital territory has a branch in a state. The federal ministries’ directives are also implemented by the branches and adopted by the states.

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The states are solely responsible for their respective states and provide coverage for local governments. In reality, state government activities are dispersed over local government regions. They fund the salaries of state employees and build roads, culverts, etc.

The local governments are only concerned with their respective local government regions. It is the third level of government and the smallest entity, hence it is known as grassroots government. They only deal with the local populace.


2. Legislative Power

The legislature is the government’s lawmaking branch. The (two-chambered) federal legislature is known as the national assembly.  Therefore, it consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The senate consists of three distinct senators from each state and one (1) senator from the FCT, while the house of reps has three hundred sixty (360) individual members.

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The state legislature is unicameral, consisting of only a single chamber of assembly. The house of assembly is comprised of one delegate from each of the state’s local governments.
The national assembly establishes laws affecting the entire country, which are followed by everyone in the states and local governments, whereas the state house of assembly develops laws for its state alone.
The law of the federal government is dominant; if there is a dispute between federal law and state law, federal law will triumph and state legislation will be nullified.

The local government legislature consists of the ward representatives (Councillors) and the chairman of the local council. They create bylaws that are approved by the state legislature. The laws are applicable to the particular local authority that established them.


3. Executive Powers

The distinction between the different tiers of government at this point is that the president heads the federal executive council. He is aided by the vice president as well as the ministers who are in charge of the respective federal ministries.

The main executive at the state level is the governor of each state. He is aided by the elected deputy governor and the commissioners of that state’s respective ministries. The President has authority over the states and local governments, while governors have authority over their respective states.

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The local government chairman are the chief executive officers of their respective local governments and have sole authority over their respective local governments.
It is clearly defined in the constitution how well the authorities should be divided between the three levels. In addition, the constitution describes how the various levels of government might prevent conflict by outlining their respective exclusive, concurrent, and residual powers.

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4. Concurrent Powers

This refers to the authorities that both the federal and state governments are authorized to execute. In a federal system of government, the constitution clearly outlines how these authorities are distributed. Below are  Included on the concurrent list are:

  • Allocation of revenue
  • Taxation collection
  • Education
  • Agriculture
  • Health care, etc

5. Exclusive Powers

These are referred to as exclusive powers since they are reserved exclusively for the federal government. Since they are sensitive and unique, the other tiers of government (both state and local) lack the capacity to control or handle them. Among the items on the exclusive list are the following:

  • Defense
  • Monetary units and legal tender
  • Citizenship, naturalization, and aliens
  • Census
  • Aviation, which covers airports
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Customs and excise levies, etc.
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6. Residual Powers

These are the abilities that are absent from both the exclusive and concurrent listings. They are limited to the States alone. On the residual list are the following:

  • Markets
  • Local government