Organs or Arms or Branches of Government

Biola Emmanuel - Thu, 09th May, 2019 @ 13:58: PM

Organs of government:

The organs of government (also referred to as arms of government or branches of government) are the EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATURE and the JUDICIARY. These three arms of government serves as a separation of power. They carry out their distinct (separate) functions and responsibilities according to the nation's constitution. Please read our article on constitution HERE.


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

Vice president

Ministers (They head various executive departments like sports, agriculture, finance and so on)

Members of the Federal Executive Council

Various Federal Agencies. In Nigeria, the federal agencies will include Nigerian Port Authourity (NPA), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Bureau of Statistics, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) and so on.

Note: The president is the head of the national executive.

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

  1. The security of the citizens in the 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 road / transport system, power, labour, finance and others through his ministers. For instance, the minister of education will be in charge of education. The ministers may also be accountable to the national assembly based on how they go about their ministries.
  4. To maintain law and order in a country through the national security agencies like the police, army, navy and others.
  5. They prepare and execute a 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 convicts who had been sentenced to death.
  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.)
  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’ which must be confirmed 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. 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:

The upper house or chamber (SENATE)

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, Abuja) giving its totality to 109 senators in Nigeria. (There are 36 states in Nigeria as at 2019). The senators represents each of their constituent state. The house of representative is comprised of 360 members. Either the Senate, House of Representative or the Presidency can initiate a bill. The point 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. On the flip side, the House of Representative cannot impeach, neither do they have any say in the decision to remove the person 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.

Below are some of the functions of the Legislature

  1. They make law.
  2. They carry out investigations on various issues as concerning the 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.
  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 in the judiciary system include:

Supreme Court

Court of Appeal

Federal High Court

High Court of the Federal Capital Territory

State High Court

National Industrial Court

Sharia Court of Appeal

Customary Court of Appeal

Magistrate Courts

District Courts

Note: In Nigeria, the Chief Justice (CJN or Chief Justice of Nigeria) is the head of the Supreme Court.

Below are some of the functions of the Judiciary

  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.
  3. They ensure compliance with the law.
  4. They check the abuse of power by the executive and the legislature.
  5. They protect the constitution of a nation.
  6. They protect the rights of the citizen in a country. 
  7. They settle the various conflicts that may arise among the people of a nation.

Amazing facts in Government


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