Arms Of Government And Their Functions

Nigeria stands as a representative of democracy in Africa, and to ensure a balance of governance within the country, three arms of government makes it functional.

These three arms of government are the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. They serve as a pillar of democracy safeguarding the rights of the citizens.

Arms Of Government And Their Functions

The three arms of government are:

1. The legislature

2. The executive

3. The Judiciary


1. The Legislature

This is the arm of government that is responsible for making laws. A legislature that consists of only one chamber is known as Unicameral Legislature while a legislature that consists of two chambers is known as Bicameral Legislature. The State House Of Assembly under Nigeria’s present democracy is Unicameral while the National Assembly is Bicameral.

Advantages Of Bicameral Legislature

1. It may prevent the hasty passage of bills.

2. Creates Sense Of Quality: States are equally represented in the Senate.

3. It Guarantees The Independence Of The Legislature: With a second chamber, it is difficult for the executive to influence the legislature.

Disadvantages Of Bicameral Legislature

1. It Is Too Expensive To Run:

The second chamber of parliament amounts to duplication of function and the result is paying two people for a job that could have been done by one person.

2. It Creates Delay In Decision Making:

The fact that a bill has to pass through the two chambers to become law means that the decision-making process is slow. Where the two chambers don’t agree, a harmonization committee is normally set up to resolve areas of disagreement.

3. It Fosters Unnecessary Rivalry:

Occasionally there could be the need for each house to assert its authority. This could lead to disagreement especially when both chambers are controlled by two different political parties.

Advantages Of Unicameral Legislature

1. It Hastens The Law Making Process: Passage of bills.

2. It Is Economical: It is cheaper to maintain and less expensive to operate.

3. It Does Not Create Room For Rivalry: The absence of a second chamber means that legislative power is vested solely in one chamber.

Disadvantages Of Unicameral Legislature

1. The system does not create enough checks against hasty and ill-considered legislation.

2. This system is not suitable for a federal system of government as there is no second chamber to represent the interest of the minority groups.

3. It makes it possible for the legislature to dominate the executive arm of government.

4. It can lead to dictatorship in government as enough checks are not provided.


Functions Of The Legislature

Below are some of the functions of the legislature:

1. To Make Laws:

The principal reason for which a Legislative House is established is to make laws for the smooth running of the state.

2. To Vote Money:

The executive makes the budget proposal and renders it to parliament for approval through an appropriation bill, and it is then the responsibility of the legislature to approve. By so doing, parliament is said to vote for money.

3. To Control The Executive:

In a parliamentary system of government, parliament has a lot of control over the executive arm of government in that it can pass a vote of no confidence on the government and its policies and this can fail that government.

The legislature in a presidential system of government can impeach the President or the Governor of a state. Most actions of the executive are subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

4. To Speak For The People As Its Representative:

Each member of the legislature is elected to represent a certain number of constituents. In other words, they are elected to represent people in a particular constituency. Their voice is seen as the voice of the people and they speak as representatives of the people.

5. To Be Involved In the Negotiation And Ratification Of Treaties:

Countries enter into agreements/treaties. And such agreements must be given the force of the law through ratification by the legislature. To ensure speedy ratification, some legislators are included in the negotiation team of their countries.

6. To Approve Appointments To Important State Offices:

Ministerial, Ambassadorial and some other key appointments made by the executive are subject to confirmation by the legislature.

7. To Scrutinize The Expenditure Of Government:

Part of the oversight functions of the legislature is to ensure that expenditure conforms with the approved budget. The legislature monitors budget implementation.

8. To Serve As Training Ground For Future Leaders:

Most politicians have always used the legislature as a launch lad for their political careers. They regard their membership in the legislature as a training ground for higher political responsibility.

9. The legislature entertains complaints from members of the public. They ensure that such grievances are settled. In the legislature, there is always a committee on public complaints.

Arms Of Government

2. The Executive

This arm is responsible for the day-to-day running of government. It executives laws made by the legislature and ensures that the sovereignty of the state is not compromised.


Functions Of The Executive

1. Administration Of The State:

The executive must run the affairs of the state and ensure good governance.

2. Formulate State Policies:

Policies form the bedrock for the administration of the state. Without them, states will become rudderless ships. Policies give the government direction. It is the function of the executive to formulate state policies.

3. Prepare State Budget:

Budget proposals are prepared by the executive and sent to the legislature for approval.

4. Implement Budgets:

When money is appropriated the actual implementation of the budget is vested with the executive.

5. Laws passed by the legislature are executed by the executive arm of government. That is, they ensure the implementation of such laws.

6. The maintenance of law and order is part of the responsibilities of the executive.

7. Maintain External Relations:

Through membership in international organizations, the executive maintains a good relationship with foreign countries. Treaties and pacts are also used to cement such relationships

8. Defend The Citizens Against External Aggression:

The defense of the citizens against external aggression or attack by a foreign country is the responsibility of the executive.

9. To Make Laws:

Executive bills are prepared by the executive arm of the government and sent to the legislature.


3. The Judiciary

This arm of the government interprets the law.

Characteristic Of The Judiciary

1. Impartiality:

The judiciary is impartial.

2. Political Neutrality:

Judges are not allowed to take part in partisan politics.

3. Permanence:

It is one arm of government that is not affected by a change in government. Even if there is a coup, the judiciary is not tampered with.

4. Independence:

The principles of separation of power guarantee the independence of the judiciary.

5. Professionalism:

Members of the judiciary are professionals in that the arm is made up of legal experts.

6. Stable Tenure Of Office:

The process for the removal of judges is cumbersome. This makes them enjoy a more stable tenure.

7. Judicial Immunity:

The law provides immunity for them in the performance of their duties.

8. Due Process:

The judiciary operates according to laid down procedures.

9. Code Of Conduct:

Judges adhere strictly to professional ethics.

Functions Of The Judiciary

1. To Interpret Laws:

Laws made by the legislature are subject to judicial interpretations.

2. To Interprets The Constitution:

Ambiguities in the Constitution are interpreted by the judiciary.

3. To Punish Offenders:

Those who violate the law are punished by the judiciary

4. To Undertake Judiciary Review:

Cases are subject to judicial review.

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