Organs, Arms or Branches of Government and their Functions

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

Topics in Government

Scheme of Work for Government, SS1, First Term Scheme of Work for Government, SS1, Second Term Scheme of Work for Government, SS1, Third Term Concept, Advantages and Disadvantages of Multi-Party System Concept, Advantages and Disadvantages of Two-Party System Pressure Group: Types of Pressure Group Characteristics of Pressure Group Constitution - Types of Constitution Government - Scope of Government Government - Characteristics of Government Government - Importance of Government One-Party System explained Multi-Party System explained with its Characteristics Party System: Zero Party System Two-Party System explained with its Characteristics Democracy and Types of Democracy Democracy - Characteristics of Democracy Government - Types and Forms of Government Government - Functions of Government What is Government? Definitions of Government

Academic Questions in Government

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

Government may be defined as an agency or machinery or instrument that is established to manage the general welfare of the people that make up a country.

In the above statement, government is defined _____.

  • A. As a process

  • B. As an act of governing

  • C. As an institution of a state

  • D. As an academic field o study

  • E. As a political wheel

  • F. As a machine of movement

Which of the following statement is false regarding the constitution?

  • A. No one is above the constitution, even the president or prime minister of a country

  • B. A constitution can be written or unwritten

  • C. The constitution consists of the fundamental human rights of citizens of a nation

  • D. The constitution does not necessarily allocate power to the different arms of government

  • E. The constitution upholds the people's sovereignty

  • F. A good constitution is neither too rigid not too flexible

A form of government whereby each state that makes up a country has the power to govern itself and manage it's own resources is known as _____.

  • A. Democracy
  • B. Communism
  • C. Federalism
  • D. Meritocracy
  • E. Autocracy
  • F. Oligarchy

The following are examples of pressure group in Nigeria except _____.

  • A. End SARS

  • B. Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)

  • C. Odua Peoples Congress (OPC)

  • D. Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)

  • E. Operation Feed the Nation (OFN)

  • H. National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS)

Which of the following is not an ethnic pressure group in Nigeria?

  • A. Bring Back our Girls (BBOG)

  • B. Afenifere

  • C. Ohanaeze Ndigbo

  • D. Middle Belt Forum (MBF)

  • E. Arewa Consultative Forum

  • F. Ijaw Youth Council (IYC)

The followings are ways to achieve gender equality except _____.

  • A. Education of the girl child

  • B. Encouraging women to go into power

  • C. Putting a stop to child marriage

  • D. Encouraging women to vote for women during elections

  • E. Empowering girls and women

  • F. Making laws that prohibits sexual harassment

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



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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


Dictatorship is one of the forms of Government. It can exist either as:

  1. Military Dictatorship
  2. Civilian Dictatorship

In 1966, Major General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi became the first military Head of State in Nigeria after he overthrew a democratic and constitutional government (headed by the prime minister; Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa)

The above instance is a military form of dictatorship.

A typical example of a civilian dictatorship is Adolf Hitler of Germany and Joseph Stalin of Russia and Georgia

You can read more on dictatorship here

A Pressure group is defined as any formal and organized body or group of people with the same interest and whose main goal is to put pressure on any governmental institution in order to influence government policies and laws to their own gain.

An example of a pressure group whose voice is often heard in Nigeria is the Academic Staff Union for Universities (ASUU).

Another instance of a pressure group in Nigeria is the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group who pressured the Nigerian Government into taking appropriate actions towards the release of the 276 kidnapped female secondary students popularly referred to as the Chibok Girls, in Chibok, Bornu State, Nigeria.

Bring Back Our Girls - Len Academy

Note: These innocent female students were kidnapped by the so called "Boko Haram" on the night of April 14th - 15th, 2014.

The above pressure group was massive globally to an extent that even the first ladies of various foreign countries became a part of it.

The EndsSars is another pressure group in Nigeria. They forced the Nigerian government into scrapping the Special Anti-Robbery Squard (SARS) who had constantly brutalized the Nigerian youths.

If men and women enjoyed the same rights, same freedom, same opportunities, same resources and same rewards in all sectors of society, then that's gender equality.

Gender equality is the process of being fair to humans; both males and females.

Below are some ways towards achieving gender equality.

  • Education of the girl child

  • Encouraging women to go into power

  • Putting a stop to sexual harassment and child marriage

  • Women and girls empowerment

  • Putting a stop to harmful traditional practices against women

  • Stopping the violence and war

Please read more on gender equality and ways to achieve it here

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.

Please read more on the Characteristics of Democracy here.