The ancient Greeks were the ones who gave us ideas about the need of government in any given society. Plato and Aristotle referred to the art of government as “steering the ship of the state so as to avoid landing on rocks”. The statesmen at the steering take decisions for the welfare of the state. In this sense, government means “a group of people that rule a state at a particular place and time. The role which government plays in our lives, as citizens in this modern world is very important, because if there is no government, people would have been confronted with series of problems like, insecurity, killing, robbery and so on.
Thomas Hobbes, a great political philosopher, tried to imagine a situation whereby the state and government do not exist, where there are no laws to regulate the conduct of the people, where there are no law enforcement agencies to punish or arrest the law breakers, where there are no law courts to adjudicate in disputes that may arise between citizens. A situation where we have an individual who is powerful and he is using his power to oppress others and he feels this is right, it becomes a war of each against all. This is a state of anarchy, a chaotic situation, where there exists perpetual struggle for survival.
Thomas Hobbes described this situation as a ‘state of nature’ which is also known as Hobbesian State, the condition under which man was living before society came into existence, and according to him, “in a state of nature life was solitary poor, nasty, brutish and short, Even though there is no evidence to show this state of nature ever existed”. The whole purpose of government according to John Locke is to make laws for the regulation and preservation of life and property, and for the defence of the community against external aggression, all this only for the public good.
People surrender their natural rights to the government and the government on the other hand uses such rights to provide for the needs of the people. In order to make the government succeed in its duties, the state is considered to be greater than the individuals living in it, without government, the state will collapse, hence the immediate need of government.
We can conclude by saying that Government is “the agency or machinery through which the will of the state is formulated expressed and realised”. The term government is therefore used to include the sum total of the legislative, executive and judicial bodies of a state. There are various reasons why every country need government. We shall highlight these reasons in the subsequent paragraphs.
WHY DO WE NEED GOVERNMENT?
There are several reasons why we need government in any society, among these are:
(i) To ensure the survival of the state through the protection of the citizen from both internal and external enemies who might want to destabilize the state and make them unsafe for people to cohabit in.
(ii) The government protects lives and properties of every inhabitant through the provision of laws, which forbid acts of killing or inhuman treatment. Likewise any act of destruction of properties, which could result into “survival of the fittest” in the society.
(iii) The maintenance of law and order in the society is solely the duty of the government. The judiciary arm of government is the one directly responsible for this. This arm of government helps to maintain law and punish the offenders of the laws.
(iv) The government makes life more meaningful and living more enjoyable through the provision of social amenities which no citizen can provide individually by themselves because of the huge cost involved. Among the welfare programmes that government provides are old age benefits, adequate shelter, public health services, electricity, communication facilities, good roads, etc.
(v) The government explores the resources of the nation, integrate them and use them to promote national development in order to make the nation a dynamic and self-reliant one.
(vi) The government manages and controls the national economy in such a way as to ensure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice. This makes the society an egalitarian society.
(vii) The protection of fundamental human rights is a strong duty of the government in a state. This is because the government is the only institution that can guarantee and protect these criteria of survival of the human person.
(viii) The government ensures that the state is properly organized and dully administered through its various agencies.