The organs or arms of government are three. They are: the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. These organs of government are the pillars upon which democratic institution rests.
The Executive: This is the organ of government that implements laws and policies in the state for the smooth running of the state. The executive implement laws passed by the legislature and help to administer the affairs of the state properly.
In a cabinet or parliamentary system of government, the executive is the cabinet which is made up of prime minister and the ministers, while in presidential system; the executive is made up of the president and other ministers he appoints to assist him.
The executive arm of government performs the following functions:
- The executive recommends and initiate bills for the consideration of the house to become laws.
- The executive, particularly in the parliamentary system have the power to summon and dissolve the legislature.
- The executive direct and supervises the judiciary.
- The executive controls trade and commercial activities with other friendly nations of the world.
- The executive negotiate agreements and treaties with other countries.
- The executive can issue pardon for offences against the state.
- The executive can punish law breakers etc.
The Legislature: The legislature is the organ of government that is primarily responsible for making laws in the country. The legislature is also known as the parliament, elected through a popular vote throughout the country, at the federal, state and the local government levels.
Types of Legislature
There are two types of legislature and they are:
- Unicameral Legislature: The unicameral type of legislature has only one legislative house in the country. This is usually common where the population of the country is small and where citizens have so many things in common. For example, countries like Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Yugoslavia, Israel, Sierra – Leone operates unicameral legislature. The unicameral legislature has a major merit of being less expensive to run. Decision making processes are quick, but such situation often lead to dictatorship.
- Bi-cameral Legislature: In this type of legislature, two houses exist to serve as check to one another. In Nigeria, the National Assembly is bicameral having the House of Senates and the House of the Representatives which is made up of 360 members. In Britain, the Parliament is made up of the House of Lords and House of Commons, while in United State of America; the Congress comprises of the Upper House and Lower House. The major merits of this system includes giving room for equal representation, allows for checks and balances, reduction of excessive workload in the upper house etc. The demerits include; unhealthy rivalry between the two houses, supremacy battle, duplications efforts, delay in decision-making, costly or expensive to run etc.
FUNCTIONS OF THE LEGISLATURE
- The legislature makes laws for the state.
- The legislature approves the annual budget of the state.
- The legislature has the power to impeach the executive from office when guilty of an offence to the state. For example, in 1981, Alhaji Balarabe Musa the Governor of Kaduna State was impeached. Another governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in Bayelsa State was also impeached for misappropriation of state fund and despicable conduct.
- The Legislature has the power to abrogate or repeal any outdated laws.
- The legislature approves the appointment of ministers, ambassadors etc.
- The legislature supervises and controls government departments and agencies such as police, public corporations etc.
- The legislature has the power to amend the constitution of the country.
The Judiciary: This is the organ of government that is responsible for the interpretation of law and pronouncement of punishment for offenders. It is often called the last hope of the oppressed in the society. This arm of government is often called the last hope of the oppressed people in the society. It is the organ of government that interprets the constitution and adjudicates on matters. The judiciary is made up of the Customary Courts, Magistrate Courts, the Sharia Courts, the High Courts, the Appeal Courts and the Supreme Court in Nigeria.
Structure of Courts in Nigeria
- The Supreme Court: This is the highest court in Nigeria headed by the Chief Justice of the federation.
- Federal Court of Appeal: Headed by the president of the Court of Appeal
- The Federal High Court: Headed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court
- The State High Court: Headed by the state Chief Judge.
- The State Sharia Court: This exists to deal with Islamic issues.
- The Magistrate and Customary courts: A court dealing with relatively minor matters or domestic offences. Examples include cases of divorce, robberies etc.
Independence of the Judiciary
Independence of the judiciary suggests a situation whereby judicial organ of the government is able to dispense justice without fear or favour. It also means ability to perform duties without being under the control or influence of any other arms of the government.
In all civilized countries of the world, judiciary must be independent because:
- Such independence will allow the judges to discharge their duties without fear or favour.
- To prevent government officials from becoming too powerful.
- It will allow the courts to effectively protect the rights of the citizens.
- To bring about peace, orderliness and peaceful coexistence in the state.
Problems of the Judiciary in Nigeria
The Nigeria Judicial system is facing the following problems;
- Lack and insufficient modern facilities to work with.
- Political interference – This often breeds unpopular judgments.
- Bribery and corruption on the part of the judges and other judicial officers.
- Courts congestion which often delay judgement. “Justice delayed is said to be justice denied”.
- Insufficient courts in Nigeria.
Functions of the Judiciary
- The Judiciary interprets the constitution and law of the land.
- The Judiciary settles disputes between individuals and between individual and the state.
- It enforces the laws and punishes offenders and law-breakers.
- The Judiciary gives advisory opinion on conflicting constitutional matters.
- It protects the rights of the citizens.
- Judiciary checks and curtails the excess of the legislature and executive by declaring their improper action “null and void.”