The term Constitution can be defined as the fundamental rules and principles by which the activities of an organization, club or state are ordered. We can also defined constitution as a body of rules, customs, regulations and systems of laws by which a country or association is usually meant or used to allocate functions, duties and obligations to various members/organs of government in a country.
Despite the above definition it is important to still consider Aristotle’s description of Constitution. He described a itas “The arrangement of offices in a state, especially the highest of all.” J.H. Prince simply postulated that, “a constitution is an agreed set of rules prescribing the organization of the government of a country”.
Aluyor (1996:67) defined it as a dovument or principle, which defines amd regulates the conduct of rulers and citizens in an organization or country. These principles or rules have a basic source, which includes, norms, taboos, traditions, customs, and law made by parliament or congress (I.e Legislature).
A constitution is a compulsory phenomenon that is bound to exist in every society, family, organization, company, polytechnic, University, Association, state or country. The constitution creates an ordered situation by which the activities of a people can be properly organized and moderated.
Appadorai (1975:246) defined it as “the body of rules which directly or indirectly affect the distribution or the exercise of the sovereign power in the state”. It is also the collection of principles according to which the powers of the government, the rights of the governed and the relations between the two are adjusted.
Nwankwo (1992:94) defined constitution as “the philosophy and fundamental laws of a state”. It is a body of laws which determines how a state is governed. A constitution states the relationship or bonds between the citizens and the state and it defines the structure, powers and functions of the organs of government namely; The executive, legislative and judiciary.
“A constitution is an agreed set of rules or principles which may or may not be documented, prescribing the organization and operations of the government of a state, society or any group”. It may evolve from, and assume the form of customs and traditions of a people or a documented and formalized form (Obasi 1996:67).
The Roles/Function of a Constitution
Constitution plays very fundamental roles in the life of any nation. These functions inclide:
1. Prescription of the structure and mode of organization or constitution of the government (Obasi 1999:66).
2. Determines the relationship among the various organs and agencies of government.
3. It spell out the rights, duties and obligations of the citizens in a country.
4. It states how the fundamental rights of the citizens can be guaranteed and safeguarded.
5. It defines, shares or allocates powers, privileges, functions/responsibilities to the various organs/tiers of government.
6. It spells out the ideology of the state.
7. It defines clearly the aspirations, motto and goals of the government and people.
8.. It states the procedure of the amendment of the Constitution.
9. It stipulates the composition and qualifications of citizens into various organs and agencies of government.
10. It serves as a symbol of sovereignty and statehood.
11. It enhances the government’s legitimacy and helps to maintain the political, social and economic stability of the state.
12. It defines and stipulates the type of political party and system/form of government that should exist in the country.
13.It specifies the types and characteristics of government that is Federal, Unitary, Presidential or Cabinet system to be adopted in the country (Johnson 1994:83)
Sources of Constitution
The sources of Constitution include the following:
Acts of parliament
Writings of prominent publicists or jurists
Types of Constitution
There are many types or kinds of constitution. They imclude: