Subject :


Class :

SS 1

Term :


Week :

Week 4


Topic :

Legitimacy and Supremacy


Previous Knowledge :

The pupils have previous knowledge of

Basic Concepts of Political Power and Authority

that was taught as a topic in their previous lesson

Behavioural Objectives :  At the end of the lesson, the pupils should be able to

  • Explain the meaning of legitimacy
  • Discuss the basis of legitimacy and its impact on governance
  • State and explain the supremacy of the state
  • Define political independence
  • Define political authority
  • Explain the dichotomy between power and authority

Teaching and Learning Resources :  .

  • Online materials
  • Schemes of work
  • Textbooks
  • Newspaper
  • Films that are related to the topic
  • Pictures
  • Activity charts









  • Meaning of legitimacy
  • Factors that determine legitimacy
  • Legitimacy as a factor of stability of government.


  • Two connotation of sovereignty (i) The state of political independence (ii)

The supreme power in a state

  • Problem of locating sovereignty
  • Limitations



Legitimacy can be defined as a means of popular, lawful and constitutional claim to power by the acceptance or approval of the citizens or electorates. Legitimacy can also be defined as the recognition and acceptance of the rulers by the people to rule them based on the fact that they are ruling in accordance to the laws of the land.


  1. Acceptable Ideology of the government i.e. socialist, capitalist etc ii. Charisma of the leaders. This could be based on their honesty of purpose, uprightness.

iii. Method of changing government e.g. through free and fair elections. iv. Performance of government i.e. if the government engages in appealing projects. v. Popular/mass political participation and support.

  1. Open-door administration and opportunities for debates and criticisms. vii.Acceptance by the international community. iix.Observance of the rule of law. ix. Respect for customs and traditions.
  2. Type of foreign policy/diplomacy pursued.


  1. Legitimacy is fundamental to the maintenance of political order in the society.

Without it, political leaders must rely on force to maintain themselves in power.

  1. A legitimate government will bring about stability in the political system. iii. The military can take advantage of illegitimate government and comes to power. iv. Legitimacy will attract the people’s support.
  1. A government that lacks legitimacy may not be accepted by the international community.
  2. A government that lacks legitimacy may resort to the use of force to ensure obedience.


  1. What is legitimacy?
  2. State 5 factors that can determine legitimacy.

Sub-Topic 2: SOVEREIGNTY :

The concept of sovereignty was introduced by a French political philosopher –Jean Bodin between 1530 – 1596 and was later developed by other political scientists such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Dicey etc.

Sovereignty can be defined as the supreme power of a state to make and enforce its laws within its territory without any form of external control.


  • Sovereignty as the supreme power in the state: Here sovereignty sees a state as second to none (either internal or external.)

Internally it means power to make and enforce laws upon subjects and associations within its area of jurisdiction. Externally, it means independence from direct political control by any other state. Sovereignty implies that a state claim is exclusive and there is no agency higher than the state.

  • Sovereignty as a state of political independence: Sovereignty is closely related to recognition. The international law makes the recognition of a state a precondition of its sovereignty. In international law, sovereignty means authority or independence of a state.


It has been a problem locating where the supreme power of a state should lie. In a simple governmental structure such as unitary system of government. It is easy to ascertain where sovereignty lies. As the structure of government gets complex, it becomes difficult to ascertain where sovereignty will be located e.g. in federal system of government.

Some of the problems of location of sovereignty are as follows:

  1. LOCATION IN A MONARCH: Jean Bodin was of the opinion that sovereignty should be located in the monarch in a monarchical system of government.
  2. LOCATION IN A UNITARY SYSTEM: Here, the supreme power is located in the central government because all the powers are concentrated in the central government.
  3. LOCATION IN THE ELECTORATE: According to Prof. A.V. Dicey, sovereign power should be located in the electorate. The electorate exercise this sovereign power through their representatives.
  4. LOCATION IN A FEDERAL STATES: In a federal system of government, the sovereign powers are constitutionally shared between the central government and the component states. Therefore, the sovereign power is located in the written constitution.
  5. LOCATION IN A MILITARY REGIME: In a military regime as experienced in Nigeria, sovereignty can be located in the supreme military body as it controls both legislative and executive councils within Nigeria.
  6. LOCATION OF SOVEREINGTY IN THE ORGANS OF GOVERNMENT: The three main organs of government include: the executive, legislature, and judiciary. For a smooth running of a modern government the three must put into practice the principles of separation of powers, whereby the powers of one is not necessarily superior or subordinate to the other but complementary. It is safe, therefore, to say that absolute powers in a state are shared among these institutions.


The following factors are some of the limitations to the sovereignty of a state.

  1. RESOURCES: Lack of human and material resources may put restraints on the exercise of state authority.
  2. PRESSURE GROUP ACTIVITIES: Pressure groups and certain individuals need to be consulted before the enactment and implementation of laws in the state without which they can influence the public for non-compliance.
  3. THE CONSTITUTION: The constitution formally creates the state and defines the various powers to be exercised as well as their limitations.
  4. THE ELECTORATE: The electorates can check the excesses of the government through elections.

ORGANISATION: States accepts limitations on their sovereignty when they become members of international organisations such as UNO, ECOWAS, and AU etc as they have to comply with the laws and resolutions of these organisations.

  1. PUBLIC OPINION: International and Local public opinions may prevent or control a country from taking an action e.g. fear of sanctions or embargos.
  2. CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS: Customs and traditions of the people are taken into consideration when making laws and this affects the sovereignty of the state.
  3. TYPE OF GOVERNMENT: Sovereignty is better exercised under unitary government then in federal and con-federal systems of government.


  1. Define sovereignty as the supreme power in a state, as the state of political independence
  2. Explain the difficulty in locating where sovereignty lies in a state.
  3. Outline 5 limitations to the sovereignty of a state.


  1. What is legitimacy in government?
  2. Outline any five ways of acquiring legitimacy.
  3. Explain the concept of the sovereignty of a state.
  4. Outline any six external limitations to the exercise of sovereignty of the state.
  5. Highlight five limitations to the sovereignty of a state.


  1. Legitimacy is determined mainly by (a) charisma (b) influence (c) acceptance (d) desire
  2. The extent to which the citizens accept the institutions, officials and activities of government is known as (a) authority (b) permission (c) legitimacy (d) power
  3. Sovereignty implies all the following except (a) the highest authority in a state (b) a state of political independence (c) unlimited powers of a state to make and enforce laws (d) the supremacy of political parties
  4. Popular sovereignty is located in the (a) military (b) police (c) electorate (d) opinion leaders
  5. Which of the following factors places limitation to the application of sovereignty in a state (a) civil service (b) international laws (c) political culture (d) political parties

Essay Questions

  1. What is legitimacy in government
  2. Explain 5 limitations to the sovereignty of a state.


READING ASSIGNMENT: Read about democracy, political culture and political socialization.






The topic is presented step by step


Step 1:

The class teacher revises the previous topics


Step 2.

He introduces the new topic


Step 3:

The class teacher allows the pupils to give their own examples and he corrects them when the needs arise


The class teacher wraps up or conclude the lesson by giving out short note to summarize the topic that he or she has just taught.

The class teacher also goes round to make sure that the notes are well copied or well written. He or she does the necessary corrections when the need arises.



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