John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

The Different Faces of Boko Haram

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, August 29, 2013
Burnt houses and ashes are pictured in the aftermath of what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and Islamist militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Burnt houses and ashes are pictured in the aftermath of what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and Islamist militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the Washington D.C.-based think tank, The Jamestown Foundation, and a contributor to the West Point CTC Sentinel.

This August, Nigeria’s Sun News conducted an interview with Nasir Isiaku, who said he was a member of an “Islamic movement” called “Shiite,” which sent members to train in Iran before he joined a Boko Haram cell in Kaduna. Isiaku said he fought Christians and “drank his victims’ blood” so their ghosts would not appear in his dreams. Read more »

Mitigating Radicalism in Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Youths play Eton fives game in a court in Nigeria's northern city of Kano September 6, 2011. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Youths play Eton fives game in a court in Nigeria's northern city of Kano September 6, 2011. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a part of the National Defense University in Washington, DC, has published a security brief by Michael O. Sodipo on jihadist radicalism in Northern Nigeria. The brief proposes practical suggestions as to how to respond to radicalization. Read more »

The Cost of Nigerian Governance

by John Campbell Tuesday, August 27, 2013
General view of the Nigerian National Assembly as Chinese President Hu Jintao gives his address in Abuja April 27, 2006. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) General view of the Nigerian National Assembly as Chinese President Hu Jintao gives his address in Abuja April 27, 2006. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Oby Ezekwesili on August 19 in Abuja said that Nigeria spent over one trillion naira on National Assembly members since 2005. That is about U.S. $6.2 billion. Mrs. Ezekwesili is a former minister of education, former minister of solid minerals, and World Bank vice president for the African region. She went on to say that 82 percent of Nigeria’s budget goes for “recurrent expenditure;” essentially keeping the doors open. She noted a recent UK report that identified Nigerian legislators as the highest paid in the world. Read more »

Nigeria’s President Jonathan to Meet with President Obama

by John Campbell Monday, August 26, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 8, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 8, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told Nigerian media that President Goodluck Jonathan and President Barack Obama would meet in Washington, DC in September, on the margins of the UN General Assembly. Read more »

President Robert Mugabe for Five More Years

by John Campbell Thursday, August 22, 2013
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace arrive for his inauguration as President, in Harare August 22, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace arrive for his inauguration as President, in Harare August 22, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Emily Mellgard co-authored this post. Emily is the Africa research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Robert Mugabe retains his grip on Zimbabwe for another five years. The swearing in ceremony for his seventh term as the nation’s leader took place on August 22 at a stadium in the capital Harare. It was attended by forty visiting heads of state and busloads of supporters brought in from the provinces to show their loyalty to the “fearless revolutionary.” Read more »

Ombatse: Disenfranchisement and Violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, August 21, 2013
People stand by a damaged vehicle at a church, the site of a bomb blast, in Nigeria's central city of Jos February 26, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) People stand by a damaged vehicle at a church, the site of a bomb blast, in Nigeria's central city of Jos February 26, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the Washington D.C.-based think tank, The Jamestown Foundation, and a contributor to the West Point CTC Sentinel.

Amid the ongoing trial of Kabiru Sokoto–the alleged Boko Haram mastermind of the Christmas Day and Abuja police headquarters bombings in 2011–other testimony relating to “Ombatse” has been largely overlooked. Ombatse means “Time has Come” in the language of the Eggon people who inhabit Nasarawa and Benue states. Ombatse was reportedly formed as the result of a revelation received in the leader’s dream that called for male Eggons to “purify society and rid it of social evils such as promiscuity, adultery, crime, alcohol consumption, and smoking.” Read more »

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe: Unjust Rewards?

by John Campbell Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare August 12, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare August 12, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Only weeks after he won Zimbabwe’s sham elections, Robert Mugabe was elected deputy chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Malawi’s president Joyce Banda was elected chairperson. After she completes her one-year term, Mugabe will become the chairperson. SADC, for the time being, has embraced Mugabe. Read more »

South Africa: Nuclear Power and Politics

by John Campbell Monday, August 19, 2013
A general view of part of the South African Petroleum Refinery (SAPREF) is seen in Durban November 29, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) A general view of part of the South African Petroleum Refinery (SAPREF) is seen in Durban November 29, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

Traditionally, South Africa’s energy sources have been its large coal reserves (85 percent) and imported oil (10 percent), much of it from Iran. In addition, South Africa maintains the only nuclear power station on the African continent, Koeberg, near Cape Town. There are two reactors at Koeberg, which produce between 5 and 6 percent of South Africa’s energy. Read more »

Somalia: Violence Against Staff Forces MSF Retreat

by John Campbell Thursday, August 15, 2013
Madina hospital staff help to wheel an injured Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) personnel on a stretcher south of capital Mogadishu December 29, 2011. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters) Madina hospital staff help to wheel an injured Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) personnel on a stretcher south of capital Mogadishu December 29, 2011. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters)

Doctors Without Borders announced that it is leaving Somalia. The French-founded, Nobel prize winning non-governmental organization, known by its French acronym MSF, provides medical care in war zones. It has operated in Somalia since 1991. In 2012, MSF “provided 624,000 medical consultations, admitted 41,100 patients to hospitals, cared for 30,090 malnourished children, vaccinated 58,620, and delivered 7,300 babies” according to its August 14 statement. Read more »

Violence in Northern Nigeria: Not Just Boko Haram

by John Campbell Wednesday, August 14, 2013
A vehicle used by Islamist militants is pictured damaged after what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and the militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A vehicle used by Islamist militants is pictured damaged after what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and the militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Very little coherent information is currently coming out of the parts of northern Nigeria under a state of emergency. What information is available indicates that activity and violence continue under the cover of the media silence, though it is difficult to judge its degree. Read more »