Definitions and Branches of Government

Biola Emmanuel - Wed, 12th June, 2019 @ 17:01: PM

Topics in Government

Characteristics of Democracy Forms of Government Characteristics, Functions and Importance of Government Definitions and Branches of Government Organs or Arms or Branches of Government Meaning, Types, Qualities and Importance of Constitution Meaning, Types and Characteristics of Pressure Group Gender Equality and how we can achieve it

Academic Questions in Government

Please check out our Test Your Knowledge page to see all Questions and Answers

The definition of democracy as "Government of the people, by the people and for the people" is a concept of _____.

  • A. John F. Kennedy
  • B. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • C. Aristotle
  • D. George W. Bush
  • E. Kamala Harris
  • F. Abraham Lincoln

A form of government where the wealthy rule the people is known as _____.

  • A. plutocracy
  • B. timocracy
  • C. technocracy
  • D. meritocracy
  • E. richocracy
  • F. autocracy

Which of the following countries isn't a result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union (USSR)?

  • A. Malta
  • B. Latvia
  • C. Moldova
  • D. Estonia
  • E. Georgia
  • F. Uzbekistan

What is Government?

Imagine a community comprised of both the rich and the poor. There are chances that some of the rich people might oppress the poor; and this could even be made worse where there is absence of an institution or agency responsible towards defending the poor against the oppression actions of the rich. The above instance will also hold true in a society where we have both the strong and the weak; and for this reason, the government was conceived. The need for government (good governance) resulted because people of different status will always live together, interact together and work together. It is certain that disagreements, conflicts, crisis, abuse, crime and other bad stuffs would likely happen among these groups of people living together. As a result, one of the reasons for the formation of a government is to put in place a policy that will direct, encourage and control people with justice, equity and fairness such that the poor can be protected from the oppression of the rich; and the weak from the might of the strong.

  • Below are some of the definitions of Government


Definition of government as an institution of a state

Government is an institution or agency or machinery or instrument that is established to manage the affairs of the general welfare of the people that make up a state or country.

The institutions through which the government carries out its purpose in the above definition are referred to as the arms or organs or branches of government. These are:


Please read on the organs/arms/branches of government here.


Definition of government as a process or act of governing

Government is the various processes and methods that are involved in the formulation, administration and implementation of public policies from a procedure which had been specifically spelt out in the constitution of a country or state.

Please read on constitution here


Definition of government as an academic field of study

Government is the study of institutions, theories, ideas, values and doctrines as relating to the acquisition and use of political power for the welfare of the people.

At the tertiary level, the term government is synonymous to Political Science (which is under the social sciences). Please read our article on synonyms here.



Branches or Divisions of Government

Government also called political science at the tertiary level can be put into 5 branches. These are:

  • Public Administration

Public Administration deals with the ways through which people, technology and materials can be managed in government establishment in order to achieve societal goals.

Take for instance, the minister of education in your country is responsible for administering the best possible ways that people, technology and materials can be utilized to bring about quality education in your country.


  • International Relations

This branch of government focuses on the foreign policies of different countries or state. It also deals with diplomacy and external relations with these foreign countries. International relations will also have involvements with international organizations like United Nations Organization (UNO), European Union (EU), Organization of African Unity (OAU) and so on.

You may have observed that different countries have got their various ambassadors in other countries. These ambassadors presents the face of their nation in these different countries even as they relate with the country’s governments. Also, different countries may work together, making treaties with one another for their respective benefits.


  • Political Institutions

This will relate to the offices of the executive, legislature and judiciary.

Read the arms of government here


  • Comparative Politics

This branch of government deals with the comparative analysis (that is; the similarities and differences) of the different government, political systems and political institution among various countries of the world. Nigeria as an instance runs a similar form of government with the United States of America.


  • Political Thoughts or Political Theories

This division of government deals with the ideas, imaginations and thoughts that the early legendary and great thinkers had regarding a state or nation.

Example of such great thinkers includes Aristotle, Plato, John Locke, Socrates, Karl Max, Martin Luther King Jr, Thomas Hobbles and so on. Below are some of their thoughts:

The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them

Karl Max

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom


The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Martin Luther King Jr.

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours

John Locke

Hell is truth seen too late

Thomas Hobbles

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something


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Amazing facts in Government


Anarchy is one of the forms of government. Ironically, it is the absence of government in a society, country or state.

An instance of anarchy occurred in Somalia in 1991 after a dictator name Said Barre was overthrown. This made Somalia disintegrate into fractions with local warlords imposing their authority over their land/area.

Other forms of government includes:

  1. Oligarchy
  2. Colonialism
  3. Monarchy
  4. Communism
  5. Federalism
  6. Dictatorship
  7. Democracy
  8. Meritocracy
  9. Autocracy
  10. Aristocracy 

Please read on the various forms of government here

Democracy is a form of government where the power of choosing a leader is vested on the people. It represents a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

According to Abrahim Lincoln,

Democracy means government of the people, by the people and for the people.

In democracy, the citizens have the rights to vote and be voted for. The citizens are mandated to choose their preferred candidate by voting for them through their political party. In fact, this voting process is considered as one of the civic responsibility of every citizen.

Please read on the fundamental Human Rights here.

NOTE: No one is above the rule of law in the democratic system. If the election outcome does not reflect the mandate of the people, a court of competent jurisdiction can nullify such election.

Democracy is practiced in countries like Nigeria, United States of America, India and South Africa.