Government SS 1 Week 1
Topic- Introduction to Government
Definitions of Government
Government has been described as an agency established by the political community to promote the general welfare of the people. It is also defined as an instrument through which the purpose of the state is formulated and sought to be realized.
The need for government came as a result of people living together, interacting and working together as well as forming different associations. This living and working together may bring conflicts, disagreements and crisis of different dimensions. The dynamic function of any state therefore, is to come up with a dynamic policy to control people by the administration of justice so that the weak are protected from the strong and the poor from the rich. Therefore the need to have a body capable of regulating their daily activities arises.
Government as an institution of the state
It is a machinery established by the state to organize, formulate and implement policies in the society. Government has three main institutions that assist it to carry out its responsibilities. These institutions are called arms, organs or branches of government. These are: the executive, legislature and judiciary. The legislature makes law, the executive implements the law while the judiciary interprets the law.
Government as a process or an art of governing
Government is seen as a process of administering a given state. This is because the activities of a given government involve a clear – cut procedure specifically laid down in the constitution of a state.
Government as an academic field of study
Government includes the study of political institutions in the state, ideas, values and doctrines about politics, political thinkers on what constitute the welfare of the people. Government is called political science in the tertiary institution. Government or political science can be divided into 5 branches.
Divisions of Government
i. Political Theory: This aspect of government deals with ideas, thoughts and imagination of great thinkers about the state. Examples are Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Karl Max, etc.
ii. Political Institutions: It deals with institutions like the legislature, executive and judiciary.
iii. Comparative Government: It compares and contrasts different political systems, political institutions and structures among various states.
iv. Public Administration: This deals with the various ways in which man and materials are mobilized in order to achieve societal goals.
v. International Relations: It focuses on the foreign policies of different states. It also deals with international organizations such as Organization of African Unity (O.A.U), United Nations Organization (U.N.O), etc.
Features of Government
1. Power: This is the ability to command others to behave in a certain way or take a particular course of action irrespective of their wishes.
2. Law: This refers to a body of rules that regulates the conduct of the people.
3. Revenue: Imposition and collection of taxes, royalties, etc helps to generate funds for the government.
4. Personnel: This refers to the able bodied men and women who assist government to implement policies.
5. Public Support: It confers legitimacy on government and it gives it authority to rule.
6. Provision of Social Amenities: The responsibility of the government is to provide for the welfare of the people, e.g. security, pipe borne water, road, schools, electricity, etc.
Functions of Government
1. Government maintains law and order through the activities of law enforcement agencies like the police, army, etc.
2. It protects the people from internal and external attacks.
3. It fosters a sense of belonging and unity in a state.
4. It settles disputes between individuals, groups and institutions through various courts.
5. Government provides social and infrastructural facilities for the people.
6. It regulates the economy through its monetary and fiscal policies.
Importance of Government
1. Government gives political education and equips the citizens with thoughtful mind.
2. The knowledge of the constitution can enable an individual to defend his freedom.
3. Government widens the political horizons of students.
4. The knowledge about powers and limitations of office holders can prevent the emergence of a dictator.
5. It gives leadership training to the students.
6. Government equips students to become an effective politician, political adviser, etc.
7. Government enables us to know our political environment and how the task of government is carried out.