1. Government as an Institution of the State
  2. Government as a Process of the Art of Governing
  3. Government as an Academic Field of Study
  4. Attributes or Characteristics of Government
  5. Functions of Government
  6. Importance of a State
  7. The State
  8. The features of the State

Government as an Institution of the State

Government as an institution of the state may be defined as a machinery established by the state to organise the state, manage its affairs and administer its functions and duties. It is also seen as a machinery through which the will of the state is formulated, expressed and realised.

The need for government arose as a result of people living and working together, which may bring about conflicts, disagreement, crises etc. Therefore, there is the need to have a body capable of regulating their daily activities and if there is no such body or agency, anarchy may reign in the society.

Government as a Process of the Art of Governing

Government is referred to as an art of governing because it is a body or an agency vested with the supreme power of the affairs of a state. A government is entrusted with the power of maintaining peace and security by putting in place machinery for that purpose. It makes laws and enforces them on people of that country. Government makes policies and implements them. Equally, it interprets laws and punishes the offenders. Policies, actions of government are meant for the general well being of the society.

The efficiency of government in administration is based on the principle of separation of powers. The executive, legislature and judiciary have their powers separated both in functions and in personnel as defined by the constitution.

Government as an Academic Field of Study

Government as an academic field of study involves the study of political institutions in the state, ideas, values and doctrines about politics, the view of political thinkers of what constituted the welfare of the people.

Government is a social science subject that is taught in schools and colleges. In higher institutions, it is mostly known as political science. The study of government embraces international relations, administration etc. Government is also related to other subjects or discipline such as history, sociology, economics, philosophy, mathematics etc.

Attributes or Characteristics of Government

  1. Law: It is a guide to the activities and behaviour of citizens.
  2. Political power: This is with the government
  3. Revenue: Government needs enough revenue to function.
  4. Work-force: Government possesses adequate personnel or work-force for policy making and execution.
  5. People’s legitimate support: It is essential for peace and stability in a system.
  6. Welfare service: Provision of essential services, e.g. water, electricity, housing etc.

Functions of Government

  1. Law making, e.g. the legislature makes the law.
  2. Provision of social amenities, e.g. electricity, portable water, health centres etc.
  3. Maintenance of law and order: This is exercised by the police.
  4. Defence of the country against external aggression
  5. Protection of lives and property
  6. Provision of jobs for the citizens
  7. Formulation and implementation of policies
  8. Promotion of economic activities through the provision of infrastructure, e.g. roads
  9. Government maintains good relations with other countries
  10. Administration of justice carried out by the judiciary

Importance of Studying Government

  1. The study of government helps in knowing types and different systems of government
  2. It helps to widen people’s knowledge about administration and other institutions in government
  3. The study of government provides political education to citizens of a country
  4. It provides opportunity for people to become future political leaders
  5. It equally provides the opportunity for people to know how conflicts originate and are resolved
  6. People know their rights, duties and obligation when they study government
  7. It helps to prevent mistakes of some past political leaders
  8. It promotes the spirit of nationalism and patriotism among the people.
  9. Citizens are made to take part in political decision-making of their government.

The State

A state may be defined as a politically organised body of people inhabiting a defined geographical entity with an organised legitimate government. A state is free from external control and possesses the power to secure obedience from the citizens. U.S.A, Nigeria, Ghana etc are examples of states.

 Features of a State

  1. Permanence: The state remains a permanent feature.
  2. A defined territory: A state has a defined territory with a limit to its size
  3. Government: It is a machinery set up by the state to pilot the affairs of the people.
  4. Sovereignty: The supreme power to make decisions and enforce same on the people is with the state. It is free from external interference and control.
  5. Population: A state has a given number of people making up the entity and with time such number is bound to increase.

State and Nation

 A state exists where there are a territory, people, a government and sovereignty, while a nation may be seen as a body of people who feel to be naturally linked together by the same language and culture.

 Society and State

Society is referred to as the association of human beings, suggesting the whole complex of relations of man to his fellows. There is the complicated network of groups and the institutions expressing human association.

There may be different groups in the society like the church, family, the trade unions etc which do influence social life but do not owe their origin to the state.

The state regulates human conduct, it orders us not to commit murder, not to steal and it prescribes punishment for their violation.