John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Musings about Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Maiduguri

by John Campbell
An official stands in front of relief materials at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri in Borno State, January 19, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) An official stands in front of relief materials at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri in Borno State, January 19, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

Maiduguri is the capital of Borno state and is the metropole of northeastern Nigeria. It has a federal university and an international airport, co-located with a Nigerian air force base. On the edge of the Sahara, it has long had religious links with Khartoum and been a center of radical Islamic thought. It has become known as the city of Boko Haram’s origin, and the venue where the movement’s leader, Mohammed Yussuf, established his community and was eventually murdered by the police. Most of its indigenous population is Kanuri, but like any big Nigerian city, it is populated by numerous ethnic groups. In pre-colonial times, the jihad of the sultan of Sokoto failed to conquer Borno, and its traditional ruler, the Shehu of Borno, continues to be a significant religious, cultural, and possibly political figure. Maiduguri is primarily a trading center. Even in the best of times, it is very poor, a reflection of the general poverty common to northeast Nigeria. The size of its population is approximately 1.2 million, including many refugees displaced by Boko Haram. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 17-January 23

by John Campbell
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 January 17, 2015 to January 23, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Nigeria’s Elections in 2011 and 2015

by John Campbell
A campaign banner in support of President Goodluck Jonathan (R) is hung next to a banner in support of Presidential candidate of opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate Yemi Osinbajo, on a street light in Ikoyi district in Lagos, January 21, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A campaign banner in support of President Goodluck Jonathan (R) is hung next to a banner in support of Presidential candidate of opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate Yemi Osinbajo, on a street light in Ikoyi district in Lagos, January 21, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigerian anxiety is high about the approaching February 14 national elections. The country’s political class is fragmented, oil prices are falling, Nigeria’s currency has been devalued, and the Lagos stock exchange is in the doldrums. The insurgency called Boko Haram appears to be gaining strength. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 10-January 16

by John Campbell
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 January 10, 2015 to January 16, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Technical Challenges to Free, Fair, and Credible Elections in Nigeria

by John Campbell
A banner advertising awareness for voter's registration is hung at the back of a bus along a road in Lagos January 7, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A banner advertising awareness for voter's registration is hung at the back of a bus along a road in Lagos January 7, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has dominated every single Nigerian presidential election since 1999. Using sophisticated forms of electoral rigging and relying on a relatively unified political class built on patronage, a PDP incumbent or his anointed successor has secured electoral victory at every turn. Such a scenario would all but ensure the re-election of Goodluck Jonathan in the February 14, 2015 elections. Read more »

International Assistance for Nigerian Refugees

by John Campbell
Refugees gather in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, that was set up for Nigerians fleeing the violence committed against them by Boko Haram militants, at Wurojuli, Gombe State, September 1, 2014. (Samuel Ini/Courtesy Reuters) Refugees gather in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, that was set up for Nigerians fleeing the violence committed against them by Boko Haram militants, at Wurojuli, Gombe State, September 1, 2014. (Samuel Ini/Courtesy Reuters)

In the best of times, Northeastern Nigeria and the adjoining regions in neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon are among the poorest regions in the world. Food security, especially, is highly fragile in the face of desertification and overpopulation. These are not the best of times. Read more »

“Je Suis Charlie” and Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
Displaced people gather as the Red Cross in Kano distributes relief materials to displaced victims of the Boko Haram violence, December 16, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) Displaced people gather as the Red Cross in Kano distributes relief materials to displaced victims of the Boko Haram violence, December 16, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

In the aftermath of the January 7 Islamist terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a separate but apparently related January 9 attack on a Jewish supermarket, both in Paris, over 3 million demonstrated throughout France in solidarity against terrorism. In Paris, demonstrators numbered some 1.6 million. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 3-January 9

by John Campbell
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 January 3, 2015 to January 9, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Paying Nigeria’s Civil Servants

by John Campbell
Youths and workers carrying signs protest at a rally marking May Day outside an open field in Lagos, May 1, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Youths and workers carrying signs protest at a rally marking May Day outside an open field in Lagos, May 1, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

A large proportion of the government of Nigeria’s revenue goes to pay the salaries of civil servants at the national, state, and local levels. With the exception of Lagos state, the heart of Nigeria’s modern economy, the states and the local government authorities have few sources of revenue of their own. They are largely dependent on revenue from the Federation Account, the share of oil revenue distributed by the federal government according to a set formula. Read more »

More Alarm Bells for Nigeria’s February Elections

by John Campbell
A building of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is set ablazed in Nigeria's central city of Jos, December 26, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A building of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is set ablazed in Nigeria's central city of Jos, December 26, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is the chief opposition party contesting the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the political control of Nigeria in national elections on February 14, 2015. The PDP’s presidential candidate is incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian. The APC’s candidate is Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, a northern Muslim. Read more »