John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

Nigeria and Norway: Accountability Dilemmas

by John Campbell Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Workers, seen through a pipe, look on at the scene of an oil pipeline fire in Dadabili, Niger state 02/04/2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigeria and Norway have little in common except the first letter of their names and the fact that they produce about the same amount of oil each day. Norway on a per capita basis may be the richest country in the world, while Nigeria is among the poorest. Norway has among the world’s best social statistics, while Nigeria has among the worst. Norway has been a democracy for a long time, while Nigeria is still struggling to attain it. Read more »

Is the West Uninterested in Nigeria’s Floods?

by John Campbell Friday, October 26, 2012
A man carries a child as he wades through flood waters in Ikorodu neighborhood of Nigeria's main city of Lagos 05/08/2007 (George Esiri/Courtesy Reuters)

It baffles me that the Western media is paying so little attention to the flooding in Nigeria. There are dramatic aerial photographs of the flooding in the Delta, and affected areas spread as far afield as Kano and Kogi states in northern and central Nigeria. Read more »

Archbishop John Onaiyekan Appointed as Cardinal

by John Campbell Thursday, October 25, 2012
Worshipers gather for evening mass at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Onitsha, Nigeria. 14/04/2005 (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI announced the appointment of Abuja Archbishop John Onaiyekan and five others as cardinals. Archbishop Onaiyekan is known for his peace and reconciliation work across the increasingly bitter Christian/Muslim divide. One of his close collaborators is the Sultan of Sokoto, Nigeria’s premier traditional Muslim ruler. The Archbishop and Sultan were short-listed this year for the Nobel Peace Prize. Archbishop Onaiyekan was also Pax Christi International’s Peace Laureate for 2012. He is a strong advocate for justice for the poor and a sharp critic of Nigeria’s political economy. With a lively sense of humor, he is a skilled debater–with Ann Widdencomb, he took on Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry on the BBC. Read more »

ANC Party Politics and the Upcoming Convention

by John Campbell Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Supporters of the ruling African National Congress demonstrate against the opposition Democratic Alliance in Cape Town 29/04/2011. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Politics within South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) is focused on the upcoming December party convention for the party presidency. The political maneuvering is focused on nominees for party positions, but also looks over its shoulder at the national presidency and vice presidency nominations for the 2015 elections. Voting in South African national elections largely remains a racial census. The ANC candidates for presidency and vice presidency can count on support from most of the country’s black population, making victory for its nominees in national elections almost a foregone conclusion. Africa Confidential has published an excellent primer on the current state of play inside the ANC. Read more »

Nigerian Army Guilt?

by John Campbell Tuesday, October 23, 2012
A Nigerian soldier stands guard at a security checkpoint in Lagos 26/04/2011. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Sunday’s New York Times carried an Agence France Presse piece reporting on the alleged Boko Haram killing of at least thirty people over a three day period in Potiskum, Yobe state.  The piece also notes that it was “not clear whether soldiers were responsible for any of the destruction.” The Nigerian army has been widely accused of indiscriminate killings in northern Nigeria as part of its campaign against Boko Haram.  Some political leaders have urged the Jonathan government to withdraw the military, especially from Maiduguri, arguing that it feeds popular support for Boko Haram.  I have blogged on a Human Rights Watch report that raises the question of whether the International criminal Court has jurisdiction over crimes committed both by Boko Haram and the military. Read more »

A Revolution Not a Coup d’État

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, October 22, 2012
Protesters occupy Mali's presidential palace in the capital Bamako 21/05/2012. (Adama Diarra/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Janet Goldner, a Senior Fulbright Scholar who has worked in Mali for the past fifteen years.  She works on a variety of grassroots, cultural, and women’s empowerment projects. She visited Mali again in July and August 2012. Her perspective, different from the more conventional discussion of the Mali crisis, reflects a wide range of indigenous contacts.   Read more »

Nigeria’s Floods and the Jonathan Administration

by John Campbell Friday, October 19, 2012
Houses are submerged in floodwaters in Idah Local Government Area, in Nigeria's central state of Kogi. 29/09/2012 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Floods resulting from the autumn rainy season have devastated central and southeastern Nigeria. According to Nigerian media, the flooding is the worst in fifty years, and has already killed more than one hundred and displaced more than a million people. The Nigerian media speculates that the particularly heavy rains are associated with global warming–as is the shortage of rainfall, when it occurs, and the advance of the Sahara Desert in the north. Read more »

A Bloody Week for Nigeria

by John Campbell Thursday, October 18, 2012
Nigerians hold their noses from the stench of death. 25/10/2001 (George Esiri/Courtesy Reuters)

According to the Nigerian press, security forces in Maiduguri went on a rampage murdering at least thirty people last week following the killing of three soldiers (one an officer) by a bomb.  AP Correspondent Jon Gambrell reports in the New York Times, of the murder of at least twenty-four people on Sunday, October 13, at a village in Kaduna state. The Nigerian press also reports that at least thirty people were killed in a clash between Tiv farmers and Fulani herdsmen in Benue state earlier this week. On Monday October 15, the Nigerian military claimed it had killed at least twenty-four members of Boko Haram in Maiduguri. Read more »

African Governance: 2012 Ibrahim Index

by John Campbell Wednesday, October 17, 2012
African flags blow in the wind as leaders arrive in Rwanda’s capital Kigali 13/02/2004. (Antony Njuguna/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday, I wrote about the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Today, I am writing about the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), published October 15 by the same foundation. Using eighty-eight indicators, it scores each country in Africa from one hundred (best) to one (worst) with respect to governance. This year, the IIAG included for the first time the north African states of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Overall, the IIAG finds that African governance has improved since 2000. But, since 2006, it concludes that governance in certain areas has declined for the continent’s “regional powerhouses,” Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Read more »

No Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership this Year–Again

by John Campbell Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim listens during a conference promoting good governance in Africa, in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam 15/11/2009. (Katrina Manson/Courtesy Reuters)

The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is awarded to a democratically-elected African chief of state who pursues good governance and then leaves office according to the constitution.  The prize has been awarded only three times since it was established in 2006: to Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano (2007), Botswana’s Festus Mogae (2008), and Cape Verde’s Pedro Verona Pires (2011). In 2009, 2010, and again this year, the selection committee found no candidate who met the eligibility criteria. The committee has made two exceptional awards, to Nelson Mandela (2007) and, this year, to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  But the lack of laureates is commonly taken to be an indictment of the quality of African leadership. Read more »