Meaning, Types and Functions of the Legislature
What is a Legislature?
A legislature is an organ of government that enacts laws for orderliness in the state. It debates executive policies (bills) and initiates its own policies. These policies when approved become laws.
What is a Bill?
A bill is a proposed law that needs to be discussed before it can become law.
In Nigeria, part of the legislature includes the National Assembly (the Senate and House of Representatives), the State House of Assembly, and the Council.
There are two types of legislature; unicameral legislature and bicameral legislature.
- Unicameral legislature: Legislature with one Chamber or House e.g. the state House of Assembly.
- Bicameral legislature: Legislature with two legislative chambers or Houses e.g. The National Assembly in Nigeria (the Senate and House of Representative).
Functions of the Legislature:
(i) The legislature makes laws.
(ii) It controls public finance by passing necessary appropriation bills and scrutinizing public expenditure.
(iii) It approves the government nominations to important state offices e.g. ministers, ambassadors, and heads of government agencies, and parastatals.
(iv) It ratifies government treaties and agreements with other countries.
(v) It considers and deals with public petitions, complaints and grievances.
(vi) It reveals unwanted laws.
(vii) Legislature amends the constitution and other laws.
(viii) It approves major government policies.
(ix) It performs investigatory/oversight function.
(x) It serves as a link between the people and the government.
(xi) It can impeach public office holders or pass votes of no confidence on them.
(xii) In some countries like Britain, it performs judicial functions e.g. The House of Lords in Britain serves as the highest court of Appeal.
(xiii) It approves a declaration of war and a state of emergency.
(xiv) It checks and controls delegated legislation.
(xv) It approves the creation of new states and local governments.
(xvi) In some countries it serves as an electoral college e.g. in 1951 in Nigeria.
An electoral college is a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to a particular office.