John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Nigeria’s Democracy Challenge

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, March 26, 2015
Members of the Nigerians United for Democracy Movement hold signs during a rally against any further election postponement in Abuja, February 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Members of the Nigerians United for Democracy Movement hold signs during a rally against any further election postponement in Abuja, February 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Russell Hanks, now retired from the State Department, who is a long-time observer of the Nigerian political scene. The views expressed are entirely his own.

Nigeria’s election, originally scheduled for last month, is set to take place this weekend. This is the first open election in the nation since 1980, one in which the outcome is not a foregone conclusion. Read more »

“Don’t Steal Nigeria’s Election”

by John Campbell Wednesday, March 25, 2015
An Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) worker checks the validity of a voter's card during a mock accreditation exercise in Lafia on March 7, ahead of the election. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) An Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) worker checks the validity of a voter's card during a mock accreditation exercise in Lafia on March 7, ahead of the election. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

In an era of instant analysis too often driven by the superficialities of the twenty-four hour news cycle, Jean Herskovits has published a thoughtful, detailed op-ed on Nigeria only a few days away from national elections. Her perspective is that of an academic who is devoted to the development of African democracy and good governance and has been writing about Nigeria for forty-five years. Her op-ed is a must-read. Read more »

Nigeria Retakes Territory from Boko Haram

by John Campbell Tuesday, March 24, 2015
A convoy of soldiers from Niger and Chad drive down a looted street in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters) A convoy of soldiers from Niger and Chad drive down a looted street in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters)

Since postponing the national elections from February 14 to March 28, the Abuja government has apparently recovered most of the territory in northeast Nigeria that had been lost to Boko Haram. Of the major towns once captured, only Gwoza appears to remain under Boko Haram’s control. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update March 14-March 20

by John Campbell Monday, March 23, 2015
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from March 14, 2015 to March 20, 2015. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

President Zuma Unlikely to Exit Early

by John Campbell Friday, March 20, 2015
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma greets supporters of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party during their final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma greets supporters of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party during their final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

When Jacob Zuma succeeded Thabo Mbeki as African National Congress (ANC) party leader and eventually became the South African chief of state, his flaws were already well known: personal financial issues, a rape trial (he was acquitted), and corruption scandals. The ANC was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Read more »

Nigeria’s Former President Acknowledges Boko Haram Grievances

by John Campbell Thursday, March 19, 2015
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo sits with the family of late Emir of Kano Ado Bayero in Kano, June 7, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo sits with the family of late Emir of Kano Ado Bayero in Kano, June 7, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

According to the Nigerian media, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, at a conference in Dubai, said, “they (Boko Haram) have legitimate grievances. We don’t need anyone to tell us that that is a problem: a problem of disparity, a problem of marginalization.” Read more »

South Africa’s President Zuma Stonewalls

by John Campbell Wednesday, March 18, 2015
South African President Jacob Zuma arrives to give his State of the Nation address at the opening session of parliament in Cape Town, February 12, 2015. (Nic Bothma/Courtesy Reuters) South African President Jacob Zuma arrives to give his State of the Nation address at the opening session of parliament in Cape Town, February 12, 2015. (Nic Bothma/Courtesy Reuters)

For many South Africans, the expenditure of roughly 246 million Rand (about $24.6 million) on President Jacob Zuma’s private residential compound, Nkandla, has become symbolic of the corruption at the upper reaches of the African National Congress (ANC). Parliamentary members of the ANC’s opposition have increasingly complained about the misuse of public money to fund Zuma’s ostentatious home. Read more »

Council on Foreign Relations Publishes a Contingency Planning Memorandum on Zimbabwe

by John Campbell Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe stands during celebrations to mark his country's 34th Independence Day in Harare, April 18, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe stands during celebrations to mark his country's 34th Independence Day in Harare, April 18, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Zimbabwe, once an African garden spot, is now characterized by bad governance, ubiquitous human rights abuses, abrogation of the rule of law, and poverty. These negatives are closely associated with Robert Mugabe, 91, who rules the country with an iron hand and with no apparent succession plan in place. Mugabe’s policies have resulted in humanitarian disaster and waves of refugees, mostly to South Africa. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update March 7-March 13

by John Campbell Monday, March 16, 2015
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from March 7, 2015 to March 13, 2015. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Mercenaries in Nigeria, Part II

by John Campbell Friday, March 13, 2015
Mercenary "Skoloza" (R) carrying a sniper rifle wrapped in camouflage netting, surveys a construction compound in this black township north of Durban, South Africa, May 9, 1994. (Desmond Boylan/Courtesy Reuters) Mercenary "Skoloza" (R) carrying a sniper rifle wrapped in camouflage netting, surveys a construction compound in this black township north of Durban, South Africa, May 9, 1994. (Desmond Boylan/Courtesy Reuters)

With the detailed March 13 New York Times story on the presence of mercenaries in Nigeria, further comment is required. Read more »