The Executive Arm of Government and its Limitations

The Executive arm of government is also called the organ or branch of government.

The executive branch of government implements the laws made by the legislature. Implementation of laws is the major function of the executive branch of government. Although, it still has other functions, which we shall look into in this article.

In the presidential system of government, the head of the executive is the President. Other members of the Executive are called the ministers appointed by the President. In the parliamentary system, he is called the Prime Minister. Other members of the parliament are called the cabinets.

In Nigeria and America, the presidential system of government exists such that the President can appoint ministers. He also has the power to remove any of them. The essence of appointing ministers (in the presidential system) or cabinets (in the parliamentary system) is to help the head of Executive perform his functions efficiently. The ministers help the President to run different parastatals in the country, such as the education, agric, economic sectors, etc.

This article will examine what constitutes the executive, including their functions.

Major functions of the Executive organ of government

The following are the functions of the executive organ of government.

Implementation of laws

Implementing laws is the major role of the executive organ in a country. The legislature makes the law while the executive implements it. In other words, as the legislature makes the law, the executive put them in action.

For better enforcement of the law by the Executive, the activities of the government are divided into departments, usually called ministries. That is why you hear of the ministry of Education, the ministry of health, the ministry of works, etc.

The President appoints a minister to take care of each of these ministries. The minister in charge will be held responsible for any shortcomings in any of the ministries. In other words, the parliament can invite such a minister to the House and ask him to explain his actions.

Each minister administers the law pertaining to his ministry. For instance, the minister of works sees that infrastructures in the country are of good standard to avoid endangering users’ lives.

Maintaining Law and Order

It is the duty of the Executive arm to maintain peace and order in the country by enforcing the law. They compel people to obey the law and punish anyone who violates it. The Executive makes use of the police to arrest and prosecute law offenders. This is precisely why the police are counted under the executive branch of government.

Without obedience to the law, the state won’t be in order and nothing will ever move successfully. In other words, they won’t be peace in the country. Therefore, the executive uses the paramilitary (the police) to maintain law and order.

International Agreement | Executive arm of government

Another function of the executive armExecutive organ of government is to enter into international treaties or agreements with other countries or external bodies. However, it is not an absolute function, as any intended agreement is subject to approval by the parliament.

Preparation of Budgets

The preparation of budgets is another major function of the Executive. The Executive prepares the expenditure and revenue budgets. The budget shows the expenditures the government will make in all the ministries in a financial year. In contrast, the revenue budget explains the amount of money expected from each source of revenue. After preparing the budget, it sends it to the parliament for approval.

Proposition of Bills

The Executive, being in an administrative position, sees the need to initiate bills and pass it into law for better governance. Once he sees such a need, he initiates a bill and sends it to the parliament. It goes through the stages of passage bill until it’s enacted into law.

Delegated Legislation

The Legislative arm makes laws, especially the major ones, and delegates powers to the Executive to make minor ones.

Initially, it is never the role of the Executive arm of government to make laws. However, it makes laws only when the legislature delegates powers to it.

For this reason, some see that the organs of government do not have a clear separation of power. Since the executive can make laws through the delegation of Powers, the legislature can perform a Quasi-Judicial function and the judiciary performs can perform the semi-legislative function, then, there is no clear-cut functions of the arms of government.

An example of a minor law that the Executive can make is the “making of laws which will assist him in running his ministry”. Let me make it more straightforward. The legislature makes major laws on agriculture. It can delegate powers to the Executive to make minor laws that can help it improve agriculture.

Formulation of Policies | Executive organ of government

Policies are principles thought by the government to be needful in the governance of a country.

It is the duty of the Executive arm to make policies on different topics. For instance, when it comes to the formulation of foreign policy, it is the Executive arm the formulates it. It also develops domestic policies to apply on domestic matters.

Ceremonial Functions

Ceremonial functions are not contained in the Constitution as it is not one of the functions of the Executive. But due to practices, it has become it’s function. Example of a ceremonial function is receiving ambassadors from other countries.

Once the Executive head notices that a notable person is visiting his territory, he goes to welcome him. The essence of this act is to give the visitor a sense of belonging.

General Functions

Everything relating to government administration in a country bothers on the Executive. The day-to-day running of government is the responsibility of the Executive. Sometimes, there will be needed for quick decisions like the imposition of curfew or state of emergency. The Executive has to make such decision.

See Also: Major Functions of the Constitution

Limitations to the Powers of the Executive arm of Government

All these roles of the Executive came with limitations. In other words, the Executive functions are not absolute, as they restrict their powers.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. The law understands the nature of human beings, that once he gets absolute power, he becomes corrupt. For this reason, the law decides the place some limitations. Some of the limitations include:

  1. The Constitution.
  2. The principle of checks and balances.
  3. Separation of Powers.

See my post on the limitations of the executive to get the full explanation.

I hope this article was helpful. If you like this article, do well to share it. Also, drop your comments, contributions and questions below.

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