Organs, Arms or Branches of Government and their Functions

len Alfred Ajibola - Thu, 09th May, 2019 @ 13:58

Topics in Government

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Academic Questions in Government

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

The absence of government in a country or state is referred to as _____.

  • A. chaos
  • B. doom
  • C. oligarchy
  • D. autocracy
  • E. anarchy
  • F. meritocracy

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

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Organs of Government:

The organs of government (also referred to as arms of government or branches of government) are:

  1. Executive
  2. Legislature
  3. Judiciary

These three arms of government serves as a separation of power.

Separation of Power implies that they carry out their distinct (separate) functions and responsibilities in accordance to the nation's constitution.

Please read more on Constitution here.

Below is an explanation of each of the Organs or Arms or Branches of Government:

  • Executive

The president, who is number one citizen of a country and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the head of the executive arm of government.

It is the responsibility of the executive to enforce or execute the law.

Please read on the Characteristics, Functions and Importance of the Government here.

The president will have a cabinet consisting of various members with whom he works with. For instance, the president of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (2019) will have a cabinet that will include the followings:

1. Vice president

2. Ministers: They head various executive departments like sports, agriculture, finance and so on.

3. Members of the Federal Executive Council

4. Federal Agencies: In Nigeria, the federal agencies include:

Note: The president is the head of the National Everything Council (NEC).

In a democratic system of government, the president and the vice president must win the majority of votes during a process called election in order to assume their respective offices.

Please read on Democracy and its Characteristics here.

Functions of the Executive

The executive run the country and is empowered by the law or constitution to carry out the following functions:

  1. They ensure the security of the citizens in a country.
  2. The executive cannot pass laws into the constitution; rather, they can forward bills to the legislature (or parliament) which will deliberate on it. (Think of bill as a proposal to be made into law; which will be submitted to the parliament in the form of a draft act).
  3. The provision of a quality healthcare system, education, good roads / transport system, power, labour and finance through his ministers. For instance, the Minister of Education will be in charge of education while the Agricultural Minister oversees the affairs of agriculture in a nation. The ministers may also be accountable to the national assembly with regards to how they go about their ministries.
    Please read on the Roles of Government in Agriculture here.
  4. To maintain law and order in a country through the National Security Agencies (NSA) like the police, army, navy and others.
  5. They prepare and execute the nation’s budget.
  6. The president approves the law into the constitution.
  7. The president appoints the members of his cabinet.
  8. The president can grant a presidential pardon to the imprisoned and convicted who had been sentenced to death. (This is often called Presidential Pardon).
    Please read on the Characteristics, Consequences and Solutions to Cultism here.
  9. The president can call for a national referendum. (A referendum refer to the processes that allow the citizens of a country to vote on a specific piece of legislation).
    Please read on the Rights of a Citizen and Attributes of a Resident here.
  10. The president appoints judges in conjunction with the Judicial System Commission (JSC).

Note: The executive arm of government may also make treaties with other nations; but such treaties must be ratified by the senate.

A treaty is a formal and written agreement between two or more countries and must be ratified.

In a country like Nigeria, an elected president can serve a maximum of eight years (two terms). The vice president is simultaneously elected with the president with regards to their political party during the electoral process. Therefore, the vice president is never appointed in a democratic system of government.

Please read on the Types of Democracy here.

When the president leaves the country, the vice president automatically serves in the capacity of the president until the president returns.


  • Legislature

The legislature is a group of elected persons who are required to make law.

In Nigeria, the legislature consist of the bicameral National Assembly which are:

  1. The upper house or chamber (SENATE)
  2. The lower house or chamber (HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE)

In Nigeria, three members of each state make up the senate (with one member from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT, Abuja) giving its totality to 109 senators in Nigeria.

Note: There are 36 states in Nigeria as at 2019. The senators represents each of their constituent state.

Meanwhile, the House of Representative is comprised of 360 members.

Please read on the Nigerian National Symbols here.

Either the Senate, House of Representative or the Presidency can initiate a bill. The point to remember is: "a bill must pass through both houses before it can become a law".

The head of the senate is referred to as the Senate President while that of the house of representative is referred to as the Speaker. Both must be elected in their respective houses together with their deputy.

Note: Only the House of Representative can initaite an impeachment proceedings; the Senate will not be able to impeach any federal officer (including the president) unless the House of Representative brings the impeachment charges.

Conversely, the House of Representative cannot impeach, neither do they have any say in the decision to remove an executive from office. It is the responsibility of the senate to try, convict, and remove the President or other impeachable federal officers.

It is the responsibility of the house to suggest, debate on and pass bills which may become a law.

For a bill to be passed into law, it must be approved by a minimum of 2/3rd majority of both the Senate and House of Representative.

Functions of the Legislature

Below are some of the functions of the Legislature:

  1. They make law.
  2. They carry out investigations on various issues as concerning public interest. To this effect, they can summon a minister or even the president for questioning.
  3. They approve the federation’s annual budget after it has been carefully scrutinized.
    Please read on Balance of Trade and Balance of Payments here.
  4. They approve the ministerial nominees made by the president. They also approve some of the members of the Executive Council.
  5. They initiate the impeachment process and can impeach any impeachable federal officer.


  • Judiciary

The judiciary is an independent arm of government whose power is enforced in the courts.

Like the Executive and Legislature, they function under the guidance of the constitution.

According to the hierarchies, the courts comprising the judiciary include:

  1. Supreme Court
  2. Court of Appeal
  3. Federal High Court
  4. High Court of the Federal Capital Territory
  5. State High Court
  6. National Industrial Court
  7. Sharia Court of Appeal
  8. Customary Court of Appeal
  9. Magistrate Courts
  10. District Courts

Note: The Chief Justice (CJ) is the head of the Supreme Court. In Nigeria, the Chief Justice is referred to as the CJN (that is; Chief Justice of Nigeria).

Functions of the Legislature

Below are some of the functions of the Legislature:

  1. They act as the backbone of the law (That is, they strengthen the law).
  2. They interpret the law. For instance, if a national election fails to follow the due processes of the law as stated in the constitution; (perhaps the election was rigged), the judiciary becomes the last resort for whichever political party or candidate had being rigged out.
    Please read on the Leadership Qualities of Joseph - The Interpreter of Dreams here.
  3. They ensure compliance with the law.
  4. They protect the rights of the citizen in a country.
    Please read on the Fundamental Human Rights here.
  5. They check the abuse of power by the executive and the legislature.
  6. They protect the constitution of a nation.
  7. They settle the various conflicts that may arise among the people of a nation.

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Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.

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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.