A constitution can be defined as the whole body of fundamental laws, customs, conventions,principles, rules and regulations according to which a particular government of a country or an organization operates. Constitution spells out details
functions of the branches of government and also how delegated legislatures should co-operate in other to effectively run the state.
Most people mistake constitution for constitutionalism. However, the two can be said to be performing two different functions. Constitution is the sum total of formal and informal rules, conventions and practices by which a society is governed while constitutionalism is the strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the constitution. Constitutionalism denote the supremacy of the law.
FEATURES OF A CONSTITUTION
1 . A constitution is the whole body of fundamental laws, customs.
2.It has a preamble or an introduction which states the ideological stand of the constitution.
3.It may be found in one document but supplement by organic laws.
4.It state the tenure of office holder and their qualification.
SOURCES OF CONSTITUTION
1.Conventions:These are precepts or rules and guides for behaviour which are not written down with, which people show their disapproval when violated.
2. Decrees: Laws made by military governments in many countries were they seized power made through the promulgation of decrees serve as sources of constitution.
3. Customs and Norms : The usual and generally accepted behaviour and the ways of living, of the people serve as an important source of their constitution.
4. Intellectual works: Works of intellectuals, such as Lucky, Marl, Hobbes, A. V Dicey and other recent and present ones are useful for drafting of constitution.
TYPES OF CONSTITUTION
1. WRITTEN CONSTITUTION : This refers to the whole body and fundamental laws, customs, principles, rules and regulations according to which a particular government of a country operate are written or documented down. This implies that a written constitution can be found in a single document.
2. UNWRITTEN CONSTITUTION : An unwritten constitution refers to when the whole body of fundamental laws, customs, conventions, principles, rules and regulations according to which a particular government of a country operates are not written down or codified in a single document.
RIGID CONSTITUTION :A rigid constitution may be defined as that constitution which cannot be amended or changed so easily because of its special stringent and cumbersome procedures of amendment.
MERITS OF RIGID CONSTITUTION
1. It protects the interest of the minority group.
2. It allays fear of ethnic domination by the majority groups in a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria.
3. It makes for smooth change of government and ensures continuity of the system of government adopted.
4. It removes constitutional ambiguity.
DEMERITS OF RIGID CONSTITUTION
1. It’s amendment process is stringent and cumbersome.
2. It is usually very expensive to run, and consumes time, energy in conducting referendum for its amendment process.
3. It’s inflexibility makes it difficult to take quick actions in time of emergency.
This can be defined as the constitution which can be amended or changed so easily, without stringent and cumbersome procedures. It can be amended with the same procedure used in making ordinary laws I. e simple majority.
MERITS OF FLEXIBLE CONSTITUTION
1. It can be easily amended in time of trouble.
2. It does not encourage revolution or civil war since it flexibility does not make for violent amendment.
3. It does not encourage revolution or civil war since its flexibility does not make for violent change or amendment.
DEMERITS OF FLEXIBLE CONSTITUTION
1. It can be amended, to easily favor those in power.
2. It encourages dictatorship because leaders with dictatorial propensities can easily bend the law in their favor.
3. It does not adequately protect the interest of the minority groups in a multi-ethnic state.