Government may be defined as the machinery that runs a state. It is the organization or agency that exercises authority and performs functions that express and realize the will of the state. It is the continuous act of making and enforcing law for a state.
In order to fully grasp the meaning of government, there are also three meaning of government students should be familiar with. Thus, government is defined as
- An Institution of the State: This refers to or is defined as the organs or machinery through which the state executes its functions. It refers to the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary which are the arms of government that serves as the machinery of the State.
- As a Process of Governance: It is defined as the process of managing and controlling the human and material resources of a state or society by the leaders of the society. It involves the system and process of making, executing and interpreting law by the institutions of the state for the benefit, the control and the management of the society.
- As an Academic Field of Study: It is defined as the discipline that deals with the study of state institutions, the teaching of government and its process in educational institutions. It is the study of the organization of states and process of government in schools. The fields or branches in government as an academic field of study include: International relations, political economy, political science, public administration, comparative politics, Local government, etc.
Characteristics of Government.
- Power: The government has the capability to secure obedience from the people so as to execute its policies.
- Structure: It always has an organized leadership structure.
- Dynamic: Government is dynamic, this means that it is not permanent because there is a periodic change of government through election, inheritance, coup d’ teat, revolution etc.
- Security: The government maintain law and order through its security forces.
- Law: Government makes rules and regulations that govern the conducts of its people.
- Pubic Support: The government enjoys, needs and seek the supports of the people for its programmes.
- Personnel: The Government makes use of qualified and able-bodied persons to run its affairs.
- Revenue: Government has sources of generating funds which is used for running their affairs and carrying out policies.
- Welfare/Social Services: The government provides or has the responsibility to provide social or welfare services to the citizens.
Functions of Government.
- Law Making: The government makes laws for the governance of its citizen. They make laws to regulate the conducts and behaviours of the people.
- Security/Defense: The government defends and protect its citizens from external attacks. It is also their duty to provide security to the life and property of its citizens through its security agencies.
- Maintenance of Law and Order: The government maintains law and order in a state using its security agencies. This is the primary function of the government.
- Job Creation/Provision of Employment Opportunities: The government also create jobs and provides employment opportunities for its citizens.
- Provision of Social Services: The government provides public amenities for its citizens. It is their duty to build social institutions that will provide social services to the people.
- Administration of Justice: The judicial arm of the government ensures that justice is served and upheld for the benefit of the citizens.
- Maintaining External Relations: The government establishes and maintains cooperation with other friendly states.
- Law Enforcement: The executive arm of the government enforces and implement the laws and policies of the state.
Reasons or Why we Study Government.
- For political education which equips us with knowledge and skills necessary for leadership.
- It provides us with basic ideas on how to be patriotic, law abiding citizens.
- It helps us to build and have the spirit of nationalism.
- It equips us with knowledge and problem solving skills so as to resolve matters and conflicts arising in the society.
- It educates us on our rights as citizens and the best ways to defend them.
- It helps the citizens to know their duties and obligations to the government.
- It enhances and increases the citizen’s level of political participation.
- It teaches us the values of democracy so as to appreciate and support it.
- It teaches us how to build and organize the society.