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Exam focus – Keypoint on Definitions of Government, Characteristics or attributes of Government, Functions of Government, Importance of studying Government and the Characteristics of a State


  • Government as an Institution of the State:
    Government as an institution of the state may be defined as the agency or a machinery in which the will of the state is formulated, expressed and attained. If there is no agency or a body to regulate people’s activities, the society will degenerate to what Thomas Hobbes called a primitive society where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.


  • Government as a process or act of governing:
    Government as a process or act of governing may be defined as a body vested with the Power and authority for maintaining security, peace and stability by making and enforcing conventional and Fundamental laws in a given state or society. Through the formation and implementation of policies in the state, Government as a process or act of governing regulates the activities of the citizens and at the same time steer the affairs of the State. In order for the art of governing to be less cumbersome, Government is divided into three main organs of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.


  • Government as an academic field of study:
    Government as an academic field of study may be defined as the study of agencies, political institutions and dynamics of the state. This study also involves looking into the functions and relationship between these institutions concerned in the steering of the affairs of the state. It also studies the international organization of which the state has a membership and the relationship between the state and other states in the world.

Characteristics or attributes of Government

  • Political power
  • Law
  • Personnel
  • Revenue
  • Public support
  • Welfare services.

Functions of Government

  • Lawmaking
  • Defence of the country
  • To administer justice
  • Economic functions
  • Political function
  • Protection of lives and properties
  • Provisions of social service
  • Provision of employment opportunities
  • Maintenance of law and order
  • Maintaining external relations.

Why should we study Government or the importance of studying Government

  1. Government prepares us to take an active part in the Government of our country.
  2. It makes us know our rights, duties and obligations as citizens.
  3. It equips us to be professional politicians.
  4. It puts the citizens in apposition to defend their fundamental human right when violated.
  5. It makes us understand the type of system of Government adopted in our country.
  6. It inculcates the spirit of nationalism and patriotism in us.
  7. It liberates us from political ignorance.
  8. It widens our political horizons and political education.
  9. It stimulates and arouses our interest and curiosity in the activities of the Government of our country.
  10. It helps to develop in us an inquisitive, balance and highly philosophical and logical thinking mind.
  11. Since no knowledge is a waste, the study of Government is useful because of the knowledge we acquire from it.

What is a State
A state can be defined as a politically organized body of people occupying a definite geographical territory with an organized Government entirely free from external control and with coercive power to secure obedience from its citizens and other.
Characteristics of a State

  • Population: For a state to exist, there must be a given number of people which has no minimum or maximum to occupy it.
  • Territory: A state must possess a definite territory which has no limit to its size.
  • Government: A state must have a machinery called Government that will steer its affairs.
  • Sovereignty: A state must have the supreme power to enable it to make and enforce laws and must be free from external control

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