John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Boko Haram"

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 »

What to Expect from the African Union Summit

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Negeri). The opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Negeri).

This is a guest post by Jason Warner. He is a PhD candidate in African Studies at Harvard University, serving as a U.S. Government Boren National Security Fellow in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Late January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia brings waves of impenetrable traffic, pan-African flags adorning the central Bole Road, and scarcely a vacant room in the city’s infamously hotel-filled landscape. The cause: the semi-annual African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit, which this year began on Friday, January 23. As the AU’s most important annual meeting kicks into high gear this week, here are some of the more pressing questions that observers and participants will have on their minds. 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 »

Balzac and Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Muslims attend prayers during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha at an open field in Lagos, October 4, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Muslims attend prayers during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha at an open field in Lagos, October 4, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/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.

Balzac’s early novel, Les Chouans (1829), is not critics’ favorite. But, the book, which deals with a revolt in Brittany of Chouans–peasants with royalist sympathies–against the French revolution, is a masterpiece of guerrilla warfare analysis. As I read it, I thought of Boko Haram–a sign of obsession, perhaps, or just simple curiosity. While chronological and cultural contexts are vastly different, I started to see commonalities between guerrillas fighting a civil war, regardless of time and place. Read more »