Democracy And Diarchy Or Duumvirate: Strange Bed Fellows (Part 7)
Democracy And Diarchy Or Duumvirate: Strange Bed Fellows (Part 7)

By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN

Democracy And Diarchy Or Duumvirate: Strange Bed Fellows (Part 7)

An American science fiction writer, Frank Hubert, once rightly stated that “good governance never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government therefore, is the method of choosing leaders”. So far, we have discussed three forms of government. They are: democracy, autocracy and oligarchy. Today, we shall be x-raying DIARCHY or DUUMVIRATE as another form of government. Upon conclusions of same, we shall commence interrogation of another concept of government infamously known as FASCISM.


Diarchy (or diarchy), from the Greek word ‘Di’ meaning, “double” and αρχια, “rule”, is a form of government in which two individuals, the diarchs, are the heads of state. In most diarchies, the diarchs hold their position for life and pass the responsibilities and power of the position to their children or family when they die.


Diarchy is one of the oldest forms of government. Diarchies are known from ancient Sparta, Rome, Carthage as well as from Germanic and Dacian tribes. Several ancient Polynesian societies exhibited a diarchic political structure as well. Ranks in the Inca Empire were structured in moieties, with two occupants of each rank, but with different status, one hanan and one hurin. In recent practice, diarchy means a system of dual rule, whether this be of a government or of an organization. Such “diarchies” are not hereditary. Examples of diarchies are the principality of Andorra, whose heads of state are the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell; the Republic of San Marino, with two collegial Captains Regent; and the Kingdom of Swaziland, where the joint heads of states are the king and his mother.


This system was first introduced in India through Montague-Chelmsford reforms in 1919. This form of government, the executive branch of each provincial (now state) government is divided into two sections. The various fields of administration will be divided between these two sections.

In British India government, Provincial governments included British members (Executive Councilors) and Indian members (ministers from Legislative council). In order to provide administrative authorities to Indian members, the diarchy was introduced and the concept of transferred and reserved subjects was introduced.

The transferred subjects include matters of high importance like law and order, revenue and justice. Reserved subjects include matters of local administration like education, public health etc. In this way, Indians got some powers to administer themselves yet the crucial subjects were dealt by British executive Councilors.

Diarchy as a novel form of government was introduced in the Indian provinces in 1921, it operated for sixteen years between 1921 and 1937. Finally diarchy was replaced by provincial autonomy in 1937. During the period of its operation in Bombay Presidency, many inherent weaknesses and drawbacks of diarchy which proved detrimental in its functioning came to light. Due to the combination of its defects with the adverse conditions under which diarchy had to function, the ultimate failure of diarchy was brought about. However, despite its ultimate failure diarchy did make several positive achievements in various fields in Bombay Presidency.


Diarchy has been suggested as a pragmatic way of resolving the incessant political instability in Nigeria. It is a formula by which civilians and the military share the governance of the country in equal terms. The Army is therefore introduced into the political administration of the country on permanent basis. The rationale of the odd arrangement is the hope that by such participation, the ambition for political power on the part of the military might be curtailed.


The proposal hit the headlines when the great

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe raised it in a Sunday newspaper of 29th October 1972. Since then, it has generated intense debate and widespread controversy. One political association lately reflected that concept in its manifesto.

The diarchy formula is simply an arrangement of expediency. Its proponents expect that it will solve our stability crisis and give the nation a breathing space to move forward. But does it provide a lasting solution to contemporary Nigeria’s political crisis? Diarchy is at best a palliative not a solution.  If the army as an institution is introduced into governance as of right, why not other institutions or professions? After all, the Nigeria Police, the academia or the Church is as entitled to a share of political authority as the Armed Forces. Experience elsewhere shows that expedient accommodation of this sort may create more problems than they solve. A

soldier interested in partisan politics should relinquish his appointment and go into politics like any other citizen. This is the vogue in the United States of America, Israel and nearer home in Ghana and Chad. It is a better way than participating in governance through the back door.

Another reality in diarchy is that the presence of some military people in government will not stop others outside it from nursing ambitions for political power. Nigeria has experienced several coups d’etat against military governments. As a matter of fact, such coups are usually more bloody than revolts against civilian governments. The lust for power, wealth and positions induce military personnel to seize power by all means. Civilians and the military are strange bedfellows as colleagues in governance. There is a basic divergence in culture and orientation between military and civilian rulers. The army is autocratic with an orientation towards imposed order, command and a non-political approach to problems.

Civilians are political, accommodating and willing to bargain and compromise conflicting positions. A combination of such incompatibles may not work effectively and indeed harmoniously.

Proponents of diarchy insist that apart from direct participation of

soldiers in government, the system makes them “watchdogs over the conduct of politics and public life”. Advocates of this diarchy option presume that the military are not partisan themselves or are immune from corruption.

We cannot pretend otherwise in the light of our experiences over the last fifty-eight years. Our best gamble in Nigeria is to embrace democracy by trying to make it work and learning from our mistakes and failures. It is a culture that develops by trial and error. The political history of Europe, the United States of America and Asia shows lessons in the struggle to install democratic order. Diarchy in any form will only deprive the people the benefits of the learning process. Democracy may not be perfect, but diarchy is certainly not its alternative. As Alfred Smith succinctly affirmed: “All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy.”


Fascism is another form of government, radically difficult to define because it has no single philosophy. Mussolini’s brand of Fascism is not exactly like Adolf Hitler’s brand of fascism, which is different from the neo-fascist views of groups like the skinheads and post-World War II beliefs. However, there are some core principles that identify a fascist movement. We shall consider these principles when discussing the characteristics of fascism.


Fascism refers to a form of radical totalitarian rule often characterized by dictatorial rule and the forcible suppression of its populace social, economic and physical facilitation’s within the confides of a nation state. The origin of this phrase was however first used in 1919 to describe a movement started under the leadership of Benito Mussolini, who described Fascism as an ideology of avid moral standing. Nevertheless, the principals of Fascism rotate around the facilitation of a doctrine based on totalitarian dogma or system of governance that involves itself with not only political organizations within a state but the political tendency of its social environment. Furthermore, Fascism as a process involves a hostile approach to all peaceful systems of governance. This veracity can be noted as Fascists often view the state as an entirely mental construct. Consequently, fascists often claim the nation is never really made neither can the state attain an absolute physical form due to the fact the nation-state is viewed as a mental political manifestation. Robert Paxton a professor at the Columbia University of New York also known as the elaborate of Fascism, does however describe this practice as a distinctive administration which gained wide held acceptance and popularity in the 20th century. In accordance to his beliefs, this philosophy involves the invocation of enthusiasm among a populace through the promotion of refined propaganda techniques based on an anti-liberal, anti-socialist and expansionist national agenda. Nonetheless, Fascism in today’s global epoch is commonly associated with many popular German Nazi and Italian regimes after World War I in Europe. On the other hand, Fascist ideology does however aim to create a mixed economy through the creation of a national and independent economy that is not only sovereign but self-sufficient. As such Fascists often view, Imperialism, political violence and war as appropriate means which can be used to achieve national rebirth. This veracity can be noted as fascist often claim there is nothing wrong with displacing weaker nations through territorial expansion.



The first pre-dominant characteristic of Fascism as an ideology is however known as Extreme nationalism or Ultra nationalism. Whilst most cosmopolitan conservative ideologies are based on the principals of international cooperation and an elite culture, extreme nationalism with regard to the ideals of Fascism does nevertheless promote the interest of one state or populace directly over that of another. Extreme nationalist or ultra-nationalists heavily rely on propaganda as a means to spread information to achieve a particular goal.

Moreover, advocates of this process use Propaganda as a means to manipulate the human emotions of fear and insecurity with regard to a populace. This is often carried out in an attempt to influence citizens to support a particular association or opinionated movement. Conversely, nationalist movements are often turned ultra-nationalist by social or economic cries from a populace, the emergence of a charismatic authoritarian leader or beliefs of long standing national superiority. An example can be noted through an observation of Germany’s political milieu after World War I. After World War I Germany existed in a realm of economic turmoil riddled by the dimensions of poverty due to the fact that post war compensation forced the administration of this constituency to pay billions of dollars back to the countries it engaged with violently during the War. Consequently, the emergence of Adolph Hitler and his promise of a stronger Germany and the racial superiority of the Arian race ultimately gained such a large following that he and his National party were able to ascend to the role of leadership. (To be continued).


“Fascism is not defined by the number of its victims, but by the way it kills them”. (Jean-Paul Sartre).

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