AN EXPOSE ON THE NEXUS BETWEEN THE RIGHT TO LIVELIHOOD AND THE RIGHT TO LIFE: A NIGERIAN LABOUR FORCE VIEWPOINT BY ERIC KELECHI IKE-NWEMEM ESQ.(LL.B, B.L)

The believe that a being has the right to live and in particular should not be deprived of it by another entity including the government is what we generally refer to as the “Right to life”. Article 6 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights made it quite unequivocal that every human being has the inherent right to life and this right shall be protected by law. The African Charter on Human and People’s Right posits that ‘Human beings are inviolable and every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.
Furthermore, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is the Supreme Law of our land makes provision for the guarantee of the most important Right as far as Human Survival is concerned ‘ The Right to Life’ and is highlighted thus;
Section 33(i) CFRN 1999 (as amended:
‘Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life save in the execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”
The purport of the above is to the effect that no one has the right to take the life of another being i.e kill another person. The act of intentional killing have been criminalized in our Legal System, this is why offences such as murder, manslaughter, abortion, etc have been created by statute and penalties prescribed. This is indeed a welcome development as it helps in the organization of society, prevention of crime and serving as a deterrent to everyone, driving home the point that human life is sacred.
As hallowed as the above provision is it is sardonic that its interpretation has been limited to its literal meaning. Such interpretation in my opinion is depthless, passive and incongruous with modernization in this ever-growing society we find ourselves.
In drawing an inference from the above stated provision of the law, it is clear that the law does not spell out the time limit for the act of murder. In other words deprivation of one’s Right to Life is not limited to just the immediate causes of such deprivation but recourse should be made primarily to its remote causes.
The Right to livelihood simply put is referred to as the right to Live. It therefore follows that having life as a Right and having all the necessities for its sustenance therefore are like Siamese twins, an illogical separation of which will spell doom. The Right to Life should include the Right to Livelihood and therefore the Right to Work. This entails job security, payment of salaries and allowances of the nation’s work force, immediate payment of retirement benefits of worker after retirement, providing palliatives for unemployed youths and creation of jobs to absorb them, etc.
It should be the fundamental duty of Government to direct its policies towards securing the citizen’s right to an adequate means of livelihood. The deprivation of this right to livelihood is tantamount to the deprivation of their Right to Life.
It is quite regrettable that the Government of the day continues to normalize for incoherent reasons, the deprivation of its citizens’ Right to Livelihood. Unemployment, owing of salaries and non-payment of pensioners’ retirement benefits timeously has over the years proven to be the overriding causes on which the ailment and death of a lot of Nigerians is precipitated, just as it is seen in the criminal chain of causation where the conduct of the accused person is directly linked or connected with the resulting effect. You may want to ponder on how that is any different from the story of Mr. John Kasali who retired in 2017 and his salary flow ceased forthwith, after a year of struggling to feed his family and endlessly waiting for his monthly pension, arrears and gratuity, his landlord evicted him from the apartment he lived with his and this untold hardship plunged him into nights of endless thinking He developed a high blood pressure and died of a heart attack still with his benefits unpaid.
Indeed, the Right to Life is an inalienable right and as such any attempt to deprive anyone of it must be met with stiff resistance and an enforcement of such right. The judiciary being the last hope of the common man in Nigeria must take steps in its interpretation of law to broaden the scope of the Right to Life as guaranteed by the constitution to incorporate the Right to Livelihood. This is because income is the foundation of many fundamental rights and when work is the sole source of income, the right to work becomes as fundamental.
In conclusion, if the Right to Livelihood is not treated as part of the constitutional Right to Life, the easiest way of depriving a person of his Right to life would be to deprive him of his means of livelihood to the point of abrogation. Such deprivation will not only denude the life of its content and meaningfulness but it will make life impossible to live.
Share Your Thoughts Below!!!

18 Comments on “AN EXPOSE ON THE NEXUS BETWEEN THE RIGHT TO LIVELIHOOD AND THE RIGHT TO LIFE: A NIGERIAN LABOUR FORCE VIEWPOINT BY ERIC KELECHI IKE-NWEMEM ESQ.(LL.B, B.L)

  1. Indeed, just like a mirror is meaningless to a blind man, the right to life is of little value to the man with an empty stomach and wallet.

    Thanks for bringing this fundamental issue to fore in a very apt and impressive manner.

  2. Great article, really enjoyed reading this.
    I allign my thoughts with yours Sir. Our Nigerian Constitution provides for the right to life , but with the present realities that right is not protected!!! The Government have neglected in establishing enabling conditions for the realization of the Right to life, and this is where the right to livelihood comes in, the both rights cannot be divorced from each other. In Nigeria Free medical care which is a necessity for the effectiveness of right to life and a livelihood is to a great extent not accessible. So many Persons have lost their lives probably because they were mandated to pay 3 Million Naira or even higher for the treatment of one chronic disease or illness, let’s be real how much is minimum wage for crying out loud 🤷‍♂️ most Nigerians cannot afford it, thank God for Go fund Me’s . This is a clear deprivation of the right to livelihood and the inveitable destruction of the right to life which the constitution provides for.
    Right to life cannot be realized without Right to livelihood !!! Right to life is meaningless without the Right to Livelihood !!!.

    Now to my question. You made comments about the non provision of time limits for the act of murder. Please shed more light on this, it’s quite unclear to me.
    Thank you. Great Article 🙌🙌🙌

    1. Thank you Mr Odia for sharing your thoughts.
      I used the phrase ‘the law doesn’t spell out the time limit for the act of murder’ to further bring to the fore the fact that once there is an effect there is definitely a cause. In the case of murder as was used in this instance, as long as the act leads to the death of the victim no matter how long it took him to die, murder can still be established. If a bullet wound is inflicted on me and it took one month for me to die it doesn’t change the fact that murder can be established.
      In light of the above, we are guaranteed the right to life but the government continuously act in a manner that ensures the deprivation of same. Indeed you mentioned a few instances where the causes have led to the effects we face today. I hope you get it 🙂

  3. It is unfortunate that the judiciary in nigeria is no longer the last hope of the common man. But with emerging thought leaders such as yourself in the judiciary, I believe their is light at the end of the tunnel. Great delivery.

  4. An insightful read, I agree with your opinion.. Personally I believe that this is one aspect that our present government needs to give utmost importance but the question remains; Is the government willing to change and make policies that will improve the livelihood of its citizens? Will they ever make it a priority?

  5. Very astounding line of thought……I say this because the means to any sustainable structure is the fuel to that structure…….pronouncing that citizens have got a right to life without a means of livelihood is synonymous to when the Federal Government pronounced that they had paid the power holding company to retain power supply whilst citizens did not notice a change in power supply…Also it is likely to The declaration of palliatives to citizens for the aim of aiding in sustainable food supply for citizens during the 2020 Covid19 Era whereas it was not so..They just told moonlight tales
    In conclusion per say,theoritically having on paper that citizens have a right to life but without provisions on a means to sustainable means of livelihood for all citizens is a scam..

  6. Analysis like this can only come from philosophers. Great job
    With this expression on the right to life and right to livelihood I would believe they are thesame.

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