John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Nigeria: What if Globalization Reverses?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, December 28, 2012
People protest on a street in Kano before the suspension of a nationwide strike by labour unions 16/01/2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers.

According to Fortune Magazine, investments in foreign held assets are decreasing. Joshua Cooper Ramo points out that, “figures on investment in assets held overseas, probably the best indicator of enthusiasm for globalism, are drifting down toward 40 percent from more than 50 percent in 2008.”  Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Goes Live

by John Campbell Thursday, December 27, 2012
A car burns at the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla 25/12/2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The Nigeria Security Tracker is now accessible on; check it out.

The Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) is a research project of the Council’s Africa program that I direct. The project was originally envisioned by Asch Harwood. The NST documents and maps violence in Nigeria that is motivated by political, economic or social grievances. There is a map that documents deaths by state. There are three graphs that show deaths over time; weekly violent deaths by perpetrator (Boko Haram, state security services, and deaths from sectarian/communal violence); and cumulative weekly violent deaths in Nigeria by perpetrator. Read more »

Boko Haram and Nigeria’s Culture of Violence

by John Campbell Wednesday, December 26, 2012
A soldier sits in a truck during a military patrol in Nigeria's central city of Jos 20/01/2010. (kintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) published today an expert brief Asch Harwood and I co-authored on violence in Nigeria. It is based on the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) that also went live today. Based on NST data, we conclude that Boko Haram, the radical Islamic insurgency against the Nigerian political economy, is expanding its area of operations. In 2011, Boko Haram violence was largely confined to Nigeria’s northeast. By the end of 2012, the NST had documented Boko Haram related incidents across all of northern Nigeria. Read more »

French President Suggests al-Qaeda Links in Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell Friday, December 21, 2012
France's President Hollande gives a speech where he declared "mission accomplished" during a ceremony to honour French troops at the Elysee Palace in Paris 21/12/2012. (Thibault Camus/Courtesy Reuters)

President Hollande said on December 21 that the French national kidnapped in northern Nigeria was the victim of an armed group that “no doubt has links with  al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)… who are now in Mali.”  Hollande’s administration sponsored and pushed hard for the UN Security Council resolution passed unanimously on December 20 authorizing West African intervention in northern Mali. Read more »

Racism Obstructs Extremism in Mali

by John Campbell Thursday, December 20, 2012
Militiaman from the Ansar Dine Islamic detain men in northeastern Mali 18/06/2012. (Adama Diarra/Courtesy Reuters)

In Nigeria, it is often said that the Arab racism inoculates the Sahel against al-Qaeda. Now, there is a credible report of black African defections from al-Qaeda linked groups in northern Mali. Hicham Bilal, who claims to have been the only black battalion leader within the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), defected in November and returned to his native Niger. In a press interview he accused jihadist groups in Mali of racism. The leadership is “white,” while blacks are “cannon fodder,” he said. He also complained that MUJAO included drug traffickers. MUJAO controls the city of Gao. According to another journalist, race may also play a role in Ansar Dine-controlled Timbuktu. Its leadership is “white,” from Algeria and Mauritania. Read more »

Cyril Ramaphosa: the Man of the Hour

by John Campbell Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Ramaphosa celebrates his election as party Deputy President at the National Conference of the ruling African National Congress in Bloemfontein 18/12/2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

At the African National Congress party convention in South Africa on December 18, Cyril Ramaphosa became deputy party leader with 3,018 votes. Jacob Zuma, the party leader (and current president of South Africa) was re-elected with 2,983 votes. The vote totals indicate that Ramaphosa, for the moment, is the most popular political figure in the ruling ANC. Nelson Mandela, ninety-four, a potent symbol of non-racial democracy, remains in the hospital. It is an open secret that when he left the South African presidency after one term, he favored Ramaphosa as his successor. The party, however, chose Thabo Mbeki, and Mandela, always a strong party man, acceded to that choice. So, Ramaphosa is closely associated with the national icon. Read more »

South Africa’s Zuma Sweeps ANC Convention, but Fundamental Dilemmas Unresolved

by John Campbell Tuesday, December 18, 2012
South Africa's President Zuma celebrates his re-election as party President alongside newly-elected party Deputy President Ramaphosa and re-elected Chairperson Mbete at the National Conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Bloemfontein 18/12/2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Jacob Zuma was re-elected as the African National Congress (ANC) party president and Cyril Ramaphosa the deputy president. They won by large margins. So, too, did Executive Committee candidates who supported Zuma. Zuma’s chief rival, current Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe received only 991 votes to Zuma’s 2,983. As voting in South Africa largely remains a racial census, at least on the national level, Zuma will almost certainly be re-elected president of South Africa in 2014. Read more »

Nigeria’s High Cost of Governance

by John Campbell Monday, December 17, 2012
Nigeria's central bank governor Lamido Sule Lamido speaks at conference on banking reforms in Nigeria in Lago 11/02/2010. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Lamido Sanusi, Nigeria’s courageous governor of the Central Bank, has once again called attention to the high cost of government in Nigeria.  He claims, credibly, that at least 70 percent of government revenue is spent on the government itself. In a comment that will hardly endear him to the political class, he called for the downsizing of government by half. Sanusi bravely pointed out that it was not just civil servants that receive government salaries.  He said, “this is a country where we have 774 local government councils; in each council you have a chairman, a vice chairman, and maybe ten counselors.” Each receives a government salary, as opposed to other countries where local governments are paid by revenues raised in their locale. Read more »

Release of the Finance Minister’s Mother: Good News From Nigeria

by John Campbell Friday, December 14, 2012
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during a media briefing in Pretoria 23/03/2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

Kamene Okonjo was released early on Friday, December 14. Eighty-two years of age, she is the mother of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Few details are available concerning the exact chain of events.  Following her December 9 kidnapping, her captors demanded a substantial ransom. The Nigerian authorities do not discuss whether or not ransoms are paid in kidnapping cases.  However, Delta Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan said there had been no negotiations, no ransom was paid, and that he thought the kidnappers released her because they were being pressured by the security services who conducted the pervasive search for Mrs. Okonjo. The Nigerian press quotes the army as saying it arrested sixty-three people in conjunction with the kidnapping. Read more »

Kamene Okonjo Held for Ransom

by John Campbell Thursday, December 13, 2012
Nigeria's Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview in Abuja 25/08/2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The elderly mother of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is still in the hands of those who kidnapped her on December 9, 2012. According to the Nigerian media, the kidnappers are demanding a ransom of N200 million (U.S. $1.27 million.) This was reduced from their original demand of N1 billion (U.S. $ 6.34 million) when the family made it clear that it could not pay. The episode still looks criminal rather than political, despite the kidnappers’ rhetoric about Delta grievances and initial demands that negotiations be with the Minister herself rather than with her brother. Two police and two domestic staff have been arrested. While the authorities are tight-lipped, presumably they will be charged with dereliction of duty during the kidnapping. The state commissioner of police says that his command has “deployed personnel to the nooks and crannies of the state in search for the kidnappers.” Read more »