3 Main Functions Of Government

Government is one of the social sciences subjects with so many definitions. Nwankwo (2002) described ‘government’ as the people and the groups within a society with authority to make, carry out, and enforce laws and manage disputes between them. For more understanding of the term government, it can be defined under the following three approaches:
1. Government as an institution of the state.
2. Government as an academic field of study.
3. Government as a process or art of governing.
The first approach defines government as an institution of the state. This government means a body of persons, institutions, or agencies that makes and enforces the law in a given state. The word “institution” in the above definition refers to the organs of government: Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary. The legislature makes a law, the executive implements the law, and the judiciary interprets the law.
The second approach defines government as an academic field of study called political science, which is the study of acquiring, consolidating, and using state power to attain individual and social goals. Government as an academic field of study has the following branches:
a. Public Administration
b. Political Thought
c. Local Government
d. Government as a teaching subject
, e. International relations
f. Comparative politics
The third approach defines government as a process or art of governing. In other words, the process of administering and implementing laid down rules and regulations in government ministries and parastatal. It is through the government or its agencies that rules and regulations are made, carried out, and enforced for the good governance of a state. Government can also be seen as the study of how people are organized and governed, how people are organized and governed, and the study of people’s political behavior within a state.
A government may also be defined as a body of people and institutions that make and execute the laws of a state, make and implement its policies, conduct its public affairs and maintain law and order within its territory.
The Functions Of Government
The functions of a government may be defined as those activities to which it may, from time to time, commit its resources.
These activities may differ in range and scope. There are, however, three main functions in which a government may engage. They consist of the following:
1. Essential Functions
These functions are essential for the constituted existence of the state and political system. These functions include:
1. The maintenance of people, order, and stability throughout the state.
2. The protection of the state against foreign invasion or domestic violence.
3. The protection of the life and property of individuals within the state’s territory.
4. The conduct of foreign relations with other states and international organizations.
5. The enactment of laws and decrees.
2. Service Functions
These are the activities government may undertake to promote individual welfare and other state purposes. Among these are:
1. The provision of essential services such as roads, pipe-borne water, and electricity.
2. The provision of education, public parks, and recreation centers.
3. The maintenance of hospitals and other aspects of public health such as sanitation, maternity, and child welfare clinics.
4. The provision of housing facilities such as low-cost housing.
3. Commercial Activities
These include those activities that may be carried out for profit by government agencies, such as railways, telecommunications, radio and television stations, airways, shipping lines, etc. The government may engage in these activities for the following reasons:
1. To cater to the common interest of the citizenry by providing resources to achieve goals that neither individuals nor private corporations can profitably achieve, such as postal services.
2. Sometimes, national interests, such as national defense or the protection of the populace’s common interest, may motivate government ownership of certain activities, such as radio and television stations which the private sector may better run. In the case of radio and television stations, the government’s interest in disseminating information to the people may overweigh every other consideration. These are called commercial activities because the government usually charges nominal fees to cover operating costs.

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