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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Jan 5 - Unlikely Bedfellows (02:00)

The Joint Action Front, a loose coalition of civil and trade union groups meet at Labour House to plan a response to the fuel price hike. Alongside the left wing union stalwarts are a new breed of young entrepreneurial social media activists. The protests began spontaneously but the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the largest and most powerful union begins to assume a leadership role. Some voice misgivings about this, citing previous accusations of corruption involving past NLC leaders but these are largely put aside.

Funmi meets Gbenga Sesan, a young IT entrepreneur and Dipo Fashina, a philosophy professor and union organiser.