Government As A Process Or The Art Of Governing

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Government As A Process Or The Art Of Governing

Government As A Process Or The Art Of Governing
Government As A Process Or The Art Of Governing

Government may also be considered as a process or the art of governing. Essentially, this definition relates to the practice of government. It is about how a government achieves it’s aims and objectives. The word ‘process’ here means activity or function.

Thus government as a process refers to the way public business is carried out. In carrying out public business, there is the need for the use of creative skills. Policies have to be adapted to the prevailing situation. Thus is precisely why governing is an art.

In this approach, there is a movement away from the study of political or governmental institutions to the discussion of those things that government does to realize it’s objectives. This shift in focus is often associated with Arthur Bentley’s book titled ‘The Process of Government‘. Bentley, a famous English writer emphasized that greater attention should be paid to the informal processes of politics than on the political institutions of the state.

Government as a process of carrying out public business may be illustrated by looking vat the structure and processes of a business organisation. Each corporation has a Board of Directors. It is the duty of a company’s Board to initiate, develop and enforce policy within the limits permitted by the shareholders.

The board has a free hand to perform its functions and the shareholders or those who have contributed money to keep the business going exercise power or influence in the appointment of the Board members. In a political community like the state, the Board of Directors is the government.

Types of Government Business

The main types of government business include the following;

  • Law Making
    As a process, government is engaged in the making of laws. Laws are made by the legislative branch to regulate the behaviour of individuals and groups. If government doesn’t regulate the activities of the citizens.

In the state of nature where people were people free to do whatever they liked, life was described by Thomas Hobbes, a famous English political scientist, as short, nasty and brutish. A landowner, for example, was at liberty to kill anyone who trespassed his land without permission in the Hobbessian state of nature.

  • Rule Application
    The executive branch of government applies or enforces law made by the legislature. Obviously, a law is useless if it is not effectively implemented. A major problem of the Nigeria state is that laws, which are supposedly made to improve the living conditions of Nigerians, are either not enforced at all or poorly implemented or implemented in favour of a group or class.

For example, the indigenization Decree of 1972 was designed to increase the Participation of Nigerians in the management of the national economy, buy in the implementation of the policy, most of the foreign businesses listed for sale were bought by top government officials who had unlimited access to state funds and bank credit (Terisa Turner, 1981).

In September 2007, the government of former President Umaru Musa Yar’adua {Late} revoked the sale of seven Federal Government houses in Abuja to former top officials of the Obasanjo government.

The Goodluck Ebere Jonathan Administration, like its predecessors similarly misconstrue deregulation to mean incessant increase in prices of products. But deregulation simply means the removal of distortions in the economy.

  • Rule Adjudication
    The judiciary interprets the law and settles disputes between individuals, individual and government, other government personnel and as well as disputes between other arms of government. In the process, the courts punish those who break the law.
  • Formulation and Implementation of Policy
    Government, especially the executive, also formulates, implements and evaluates public policies. A public policy is a purposive course of action followed by government officials in order to achieve certain objectives. It is the duty of government to take decisions on all issues, draw up plans, conduct census to find out the number of people in the country at any given time as well as their needs.

Carrying out public business is one of the most difficult problems of government in the modern world. It is not possible to satisfy everyone all the time. This partly explains why a change of government at regular intervals is a practical necessity in modern states.

Criticism of Government as an Art of Governing

This approach has be criticized on the following grounds.

  • This approach to the study of government tends to ignore political factors like administration, which are very critical to the pursuit of public business
  • Its focus on the internal workings of government tends to limit it’s association with non-governmental organizations or non-state actors like labour unions and professional associations in achieving the objectives of the state.
  • This definition of government tends to emphasize primarily those aspects of the political system, which can be measured or quantified.
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