Government: Arms of Government

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Arms of Government

Government refers to the group of people who rule a country. Government makes the laws of the country and interprets the laws. Generally, government is divided into three parts (or arms) and each arm has its own duties.


The Executive

The executive refers to the president of the country, the state governors, ministers and state commissioners. This arm does the daily work of ruling the society. Some of its other functions include the following:

  • The executive makes policies. This means that it decides the way in which things should be done.
  • It appoints top government officials to carry out different duties.
  • If the country needs to fight another country, the executive will declare war and the army will go to battle.
  • The executive represents the country in the gathering of other countries of the world.
  • It maintains law and order by telling the police what to do.
  • It decides how money should be spent on the different services provided by the government.
  • When a law is made, the president must sign it before the citizens begin to obey it.
  • The president can pardon those who have committed crimes.


 The Legislature

  • This arm of government makes laws.
  • It controls how money should be spent in the country; when the president (the executive) proposes how money should be spent, the legislature would approve such proposal by signing it.
  • When the executive appoints top government officials (such as ministers and ambassadors), the legislature would approve the appointments. It could also reject the appointments.
  • When there is a complaint about other arms of government, the legislature will find out if that complaint is true.
  • If the executive declares war on another country, the legislature would have to approve it.
  • The legislative arm of government discusses the different plans which the government has for the citizens. They may amend or reject such plans.
  • If some parts of the country’s constitution needs to be changed, the legislature would discuss it first, and then make the change.
  • If the president, governors or other officials commit a serious crime, the legislature would try them in a special court and remove them from office if necessary. This is called impeachment. Those who make up the legislative arm of government are members of:
  • the Senate
  • the House of Representatives
  • States’ Houses of Assembly

The Judiciary

  • This arm of government interprets the laws of the country. It explains the laws and helps the citizens to understand them.
  • It settles cases in court.
  • It prevents people from doing wrong by giving an order in court.
  • It can punish criminals by giving a judgment against them in court.
  • It can examine the activities of the executive and the legislature, and say if such activities are right or wrong.
  • It protects the rights of the citizens. If someone is trying to stop you from enjoying your rights, you could sue that person to court. The judiciary would make sure your rights are restored to you.

The judiciary is made up of the judges and magistrates.



  1. Identify the three arms of government.
  2. Identify three duties of each arm of government.





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