Let Them Chop Cassava!

In Nigeria chop means to eat, it can also mean to eat with immoral or criminal greed.

Cassava is a root carbohydrate staple. Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava and the 6th largest oil producer in the world. 

On January 1st 2012 the Nigerian Government shocked its citizens by announcing a 117% rise in the price of fuel. As 70% of Nigerians live on less than $1 a day, for many the price hike was a serious threat to their very survival.

The government argued it could no longer afford a subsidy that kept the price of petrol artificially low, ministers admitted there was rampant corruption in the petroleum industry and claimed subsidy removal would thwart the activities of a shadowy "cabal" of oil marketers and politicians who profited from the status quo and over whom they were powerless.

Incensed that their notoriously profligate and highly paid leaders, (some four hundred senators and representatives earn substantially more than President Obama,) had done nothing to tackle corruption, Nigerians of all classes took to the streets demanding a reversal to the original 65 Naira per litre price.

As the protests developed, the profligacy, corruption and ethnic divisions that have blighted the country's development came into sharp focus.




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Entries in Chopcassava (6)


Chopcassava (Series Trailer)

Chopcassava is a web series that documented the January 2012 fuel subsidy protests in Lagos, Nigeria. The videos are an insiders' view of the events and were originally uploaded on YouTube as the protests unfolded. 

Produced by Funmi Iyanda and Chris Dada, the series was created by a team of young and courageous Nigerian media professionals and we are excited to have been nominated as best web series (Non- Fiction) at the 2012 Banff World Media Festival. 


The videos are presented blog-style, as they appeared originally - with the last entry first.



Jan 13 - A Pulitzer Winner's Views (02:50)

Pulitzer winning journalist and former editor of Newsday Dele Olojede returned to Nigeria in 2006 and two years later started 234NEXT. Employing a new generation of bright, fearless journalists, NEXT broke news stories about political and corporate corruption which no one else would touch. Naturally they made many enemies losing advertising and investment until last year the paper suddenly disappeared off the streets.

We arrange an interview with Dele to get his take on the crisis. Driving across town to the appointment at his home on the Island, we fly the NLC flag to avoid being hassled by strike enforcers, the Third Mainland Bridge is eerily empty - The strike is holding fast.


Jan 10 - The Rich also Cry (01:22)

Chopcassava heads to another fuel subsidy removal protest at Falomo, Ikoyi - a posh part of Lagos. Apparently the anger at the price increase, cuts across economic classes and the well-off gather underneath the bridge.

Celebrities lend their support - Nollywood star Kate Henshaw speaks out.


Jan 10th - Voices from the Park (01:59)

As the days pass the crowd at Gani Fawehinmi park grows bigger still as citizens, entertainment stars, activists and politicians gather to support the protest. 'Freedom Park' becomes like a cross between Woodstock and Tahir Square.

Voices from the park include Seun Kuti, son of afrobeat legend Fela, Ade Bantu and others.


Jan 9 - Nigeria takes to the Streets (02:58)


JAN 9 - The first day of the general strike called by the Labour and civil society groups. Demonstrations and protest rallies are held across Lagos. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) organises a large march from Labour House in Yaba to 'Freedom Park,' Ojota. The Gani Fawehinmi Park, named after a civil rights campaigner is beoming the focal point of the protests in the City.

Cherry, white and green NLC flags contribute to the festive atmosphere and Fela Kuti hits blare out as the procession heads to Ojota.



Jan 8 - Concerned Citizens (03:08)

Nigeria has been stirred to disscussion and action. Many feel the protests are about more than the price of petrol and see them as a popular appeal for more fundamental change. Corruption, governance and the question of a sovereign national conference arise. A meeting of "eminent persons" is held in the grand Victoria Island home of former presidential aspirant Tunji Braithwaithe. Fellow former Presidential candidate, Pat Utomi, former Finance Minister Kalu Idika Kalu, public servants, business and labour leaders debate the issues.