Table Of Contents
1. What Is Government
2. Functions Of Government
3. Structure Of Government
4. Functions Of The Legislature
5. The Executive
6. Functions Of The Executive
7. The Judiciary
8. Functions Of The Judiciary
Functions And Structure Of Government
What Is Government
Government is a group of person who rule a country or state. These person are expected to perform certain duties to the people they rule.
Functions Of Government
The following are the functions government:
1. Law Making:
One of the functions of government is to make laws which the citizens must obey. This is necessary in order to ensure there is peace, order and security in society. These functions are performed by the legislative arm of governmnet who can equally amend or repeal such laws.
2. Maintenance Of Law and Order:
It is the duty of the government to ensure that all laws are obeyed. When obedience to these laws is enforced by government it brings order to the country. This function is performed by the executive arm through its law enforcement agencies like Police, EFCC, ICPC, Civil Defense, FRSC etc.
3. Defense of the Country:
One of the duties of the government is to defend her citizens and territory against any external aggression or attack. Government does this through the armed forces like the Army, Navy and Air Force and Para Military.
4. Provison of Social Amenities:
Government provides social amenities and infrastructure for the comfort of her citizens. Amenities like electricity, water, healthcare delivery, roads, and schools are provided by various ministries, corporations and agencies. A good exampe is the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural infrastructure (DFRRI).
5. Protection Of Lives And Property:
It is the responsibility of the governmnent to protect the lives and property of her citizens. Government does this through the Law Court and Police Force & Para Military.
6. Creation Of Job Opportunities:
Government provides jobs and creates employment opportunities for the people. Government does this through building industries, training people in differernt vocations and crafys for self-employment. The National Directorate For Employment (NDE) and National Poverty Eradication Programme ( NAPEP) are on course creating employment opportunities for people.
7. Economic Functions:
The government formulates policies and initiates programmes and activities that will stimulate and promote economic activities in the country. This is done through proper planning, developing and utilizing the available resources. A good example is the government’s economic empowerment programme at the federal state and local government levels, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (SEEDS), Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LEEDS).
8. Maintenance Of External Relations:
It is the duty of the government to maintain good and friendly relations with other countries. The president, through the ministry of foreign affairs, performs this function in Nigeria. No country lives in isolation. Every country wants to have good relationship with other countries because countries must have something to benefit from one another.
9. Administration of Justice:
The government, through the Law Court, settles disputes among individuals, organizations communities and government.
10. Political Duty:
It is the duty of the government to conduct free and fair elections in accordance with the electoral laws and acts of the land. The government also creates a conducive atmosphere for political activities. The government does this through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Structure Of Government
Government is machinery used by the state to realize its purpose like an organization. There are basically three arms or organs of government with specific functions assigned to each of them. They are:
The business or affairs of the government are carried out by these three organs as will be seen in their various activities and functions.
This is the arm of government that makes laws. In the modern state, it is made up of elected representatives of the people with fixed tenure of office. The legislature is known by different names in different countries.
In Nigeria, it is know as the National Assembly made up of the senate and House of Representatives. In Britain, it is known as the parliament made up of House of Commons and House of Lords. In the United States of America, it is known as the congress made up of the Senate and House of Representatives.
There are two types of legislature, namely: Unicameral and Bicameral. Some countries have unicameral legislature, which means they have only one House or Chamber as the legislative arm. Examples of such countries are Gambia, Ghana and Serra Leone.
Some other countries run bicameral legislature, meaning that they have two different chambers or house making up the legislative arm. Nigeria, United States of America and Britain are examples of countries with bicameral legislature.
In Nigeria, the legislature at the Federal Level is called the National Assembly and it is bicameral. It is made up of the Senate as the upper chamber and the House of representatives as the lower chamber. The senate is headed by a Senate President who assists the Senate president. The house of Representative is headed by a speaker and assisted by a deputy speaker.
There are various committees in both the Senate and house of Representative usually referred to as House Committees. Each of the committees has a chairman and members. Each of the committees has specific matters they are in charge of. Such matters are health, education, media, etc.
Each of the 36 states of the federation is represented in the senate by three members plus a members representing the federal capital territory (FCT). Therefore, the senate is made of 109 senators.
The House of Representative has 360 members with each members representing a federal constituency. Bills can be initiated in any of the two Houses but must pass through both before it is presented to the president for his assent or signature.
At the state level, we have a unicameral legislature called the House of Assembly which is also headed by a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker. Each Local Government Area is represented by a member in the state House of Assembly.
The Local Government level government is divided into wards is represented in the local government by a councilor. The head of the council Chamber is known as the leader.
Functions Of The Legislature
The legislature arm of government is made up of elected. Person whose main duty is to make laws. They also perform a good number of other function.
1. Law Making:
This is the main function of the legislature. The laws made by the legislature guide and direct the affairs of a country. The executive can initiate a bill and present it to the House for debate and consideration. Bills can also come from the members of the house themselves or from the public. After debating the bill, it is signed into law by the executive, e.g., the Governor or the President.
2. Amendment Of The Constitution:
The legislature has the authority to change a certain sections of the constitution considered to be against the interest of the people or that the people think is not in their own or best interest. They amend the constitution if they are able to get two-thirds majority in the parliament.
3. Approval Of Budget:
The executive arm of government prepares an annual budget by considering all the income and the expenditure of the government (all the ways that government plans to raise and spend money) and sends it to the legislature for approval.
4. Approval Of Appointments:
The chief executive such as the Governor or President draw up a list of ministers or list of ambassadors and sends the list to the legislature for approval. Anyone that the legislature disapproval of wii be dropped from the list.
5. People’s Representatives:
The legislature is a channel though which members of the public express their opinions. This is through elected representatives. In fact, all citizens and groups make their view, especially about their needs and other national issues known through their elected representatives in the legislature.
6. Power Of Impeachment:
The legislature has the power to impeach or remove the President or Governor if they are found to be guilty of gross misconduct or very serious offences, e.g. Alhaji Balarabe Musa was removed as the governor of Kaduna state by the state house of assembly in 1981.
7. Approval Of International Treaties:
The legislature approves or ratifies most of the foreign negotiations, agreement and treaties signed by the president on behalf of the country. For instance, the legislature consented to the Green Tree Agreement on the Bakassi Peninsula that was in dispute between Nigeria and Cameroun. It approves the declaration of war on any country.
8. Political Education:
The legislature gives political education to the citizenry through their debates and committee hearings. They also make people to be politically aware through their analysis of issues in the radio, newspaper and television.
9. Oversight Functions:
The legislature provides time to time carryout oversight function on the on going projects and activities of the executive by supervising it and ensuring compliance to standard and rule.
This is the arm of government whose main function is the execution or the implementation of the laws made by the legislative arm of government. It is the responsibility of the executive arm of government to put into practice or carry out all the laws, policies and directives made by the legislature.
In the presidential system of government, the executive arm is headed by the President and, in the parliamentary system of government, the executive arm is headed by the Prime Minister called the head of government while there is a president called the ceremonial head of state.
The President rules with his Deputy and Ministers (Who are in charge of various ministries). Head of civil service and secretary to the Federal Government. They are all members of the Executive Council (EXCO) meeting and they meet with the president once a week. The president is the head of state as well as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed force. The police, the army, navy, etc are under him.
The structure is the same at the state level. Here, the Governor rules with his deputy and commissioners who are in charge of their various ministries. They meet once a week. At the local government, the chairman is the chief executive and presides over the local government with the deputy chairman and appointed supervisory councillors who are in charge of departments.
Functions Of The Executive
1. Enforcement Of Laws:
The main function of the executive arm is to enforce or carry out laws made by the legislature. They equally implement policies and programmes formulated by government. This is done through different ministries, parastalas, agencies and career civil servants.
2. Policy Formulation:
The executive is responsible for the formulation of policies and programmes of government. The can equally initiate bills which the legislative arm can deliberate on discuss and pass into law.
3. Maintenance of Law and Order:
The executive, through the various law enforcement agencies like this police, EFCC, ICPC, SON, NDLEA, NAFDAC, SSS, FRSC, etc maintains law and order. The executive ensures the security and protection of lives and property.
4. Preparation Of Budget:
The executive prepares the annual income and expenditure of the state which it presents to the legislature for approval or amendment before any money is spent.
5. Appointment of and removal of Top Officials in Government:
The executive arm appoints the ministers, ambassadors, chief justices of the federation, high court judges, special advisers, heads of corporations, agencies, armed forces, etc. Some of these appointments are subject to approval of the legislature.
The executive has the power to dismiss any of them without reference to the legislature.
It should be noted that the President cannot dismiss the chief justice or high court judge at will except they misbehave and their removal is subject to the approval of the Judicial Service Commission.
6. Declaration Of War:
The President, as the Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, has the power to declare war and can equally declare a state of emergency on any part of the country, but this must receive the approval of the legislature.
7. Power of pardon:
The President has the power to grant state pardon, general amnesty or clemency, when the need arises, to citizens who have offended the state like the age-long Niger Delta crisis and the amnesty package granted to all militants who surrendered their arms by the late President Yar’adua. This is called Prerogative of Mercy.
8. Development Of the Country:
The executive is in charge of the development of the country and makes sure that there is infrastructural, social, political, cultural and economic development of the state. It is also in charge of provision of social amenities in the country such as schools, roads, water, electricity, hospitals, and so on.
Other functions include; Exercise or Delegated legislature, signing of bills into law and external relations.
The Judiciary is the third arm of government and is responsible for the interpretation of laws, settling of disputes and punishing the law breakers. In Nigeria, the judiciary is made up of the Chief Justice of the federation, high court judges, and magistrates, grand khadus and state counsels, who preside over different courts. They range from the supreme court, which is the highest court, to the appeal court, the high court, the magistrate court and down to the customary court, including the sharia court. The judiciary is presided over by the Chief Justice of the federation but the Ministry of justice is headed by the minister who is also the Attorney General of the Country. It should be noted that the members of the bar are lawyers while the members of the bench are judges and magistrates.
The court is seen as the last resort or hope of the common man, and so, there is need for the independence of the judiciary.
Functions of the Judiciary
1. Interpretation of constitutions and laws:
This is the main duty of this organ of government. The court interprets the laws and constitution and states how they Could be applied to cases involving individual citizens, organizations and the state. If there is any doubt as to what the meaning of any part of the constitution is, such a doubt is normally cleared by the judiciary. For instance, when late President Yar’adua was ill for a long time, the chief judge of the federation was invited to interpret the section of the Constitution that had something to say about what court be done in such circumstance.
2. Settlement of Disputes:
The court settles cases amongst individuals, government and communities. Both criminal and civil cases are settled in the laws into their own hands. When a citizen feels offended, he should take the case to court where justice will be given by the judges without bias, fear or favour.
3. Safeguarding the rights and freedom of the Citizens:
The judicial arm safeguards the rights and liberty of citizens by entertaining complaints from aggrieved individuals and makes sure that justice prevails. The judiciary can only help citizens when they bring their cases to them. Citizens are advised to take their cases to the judiciary when their rights are trampled upon. It is only the judiciary that can prosecute offenders. Do not end your cases only on the pages of newspapers.
4. Punishment Of Offenders (Law Breakers):
The courts have the power to punish those that have offended the laws of the land. When a person is found guilty of an offence, he may be warned, discharged, fined, imprisoned or executed. When a person is not guilty of an offence, he is said to be acquitted and discharged.
5. Judicial Review:
The Judiciary has the power to review some of the activities of the executive and the legislature to ensure that they do not exceed their powers and interfere in the work of each other.
If they find out that any legislation was not made according to the law, it will be declared null and void (not according to the law) and, therefore, useless. In other words, it checks the activities of the executive and the legislative arms of government.
6. Settlement of Electoral Matters and Disputes:
The court settles electoral matters and disputes. During elections or after elections, courts may determine who actually won the election or who rigged it. Examples are Governors Adams Oshiomole of Edo State and Rotimi Amaechi of River State who were declared winners of their states election of 2007 by the Law Court as against those formally declared winner by INEC.
Other functions includes:
7. Custodian of the constitution.
8. Administration of the oath of office.
9. Granting of state pardon.
10. Conduct and dissolution of marriages.