John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 16–August 22

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 August 16 to August 22, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Negotiating the Freedom of the Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigeria is abuzz with speculation about government negotiations with Boko Haram over the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. According to the Nigerian media, former president Obasanjo has been speaking with personalities “close to” Boko Haram. Names of other possible official negotiators circulate. Speculation is that the parameters of a possible deal would be Boko Haram freeing some or all of the girls in return for the government releasing Boko Haram operatives and/or their wives and children who are currently extra-judicially detained without charge. Read more »

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Stonewalls on Security Service Human Rights Abuses

by John Campbell
French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as he arrives to attend the African Security Summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 17, 2014. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Courtesy Reuters) French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as he arrives to attend the African Security Summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 17, 2014. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Courtesy Reuters)

President Jonathan delivered an important speech at the “Regional Summit on Security in Nigeria” held in Paris on May 17, 2014. Its worth a close reading because if provides the Jonathan administration’s “narrative” on Boko Haram, international terrorism, and the school girl kidnapping. Read more »

Contemplating the Nigerian Crises That Attract International Notoriety

by John Campbell
A man holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest along a road in Lagos, #BringBackOurGirls, May 14, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A man holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest along a road in Lagos, #BringBackOurGirls, May 14, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

There has been no end of atrocities related to the “Boko Haram” insurgency and the Nigerian government’s failed efforts to defeat it. For example, in February, “Boko Haram” slit the throats of some dozens of adolescent boys in the dormitory of a boarding school they attacked and burned. In March, the security services murdered in cold blood hundreds of detainees at Giwa Barracks charged with no crime, an event that is the subject of an Amnesty International report. Read more »

South Africa: What Does “Service Delivery” Really Mean?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Protesters take part in a service delivery protest in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, February 5, 2014. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters take part in a service delivery protest in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, February 5, 2014. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Le Chen, Janice Dean, Jesper Frant, and Rachana Kumar. They are Master of Public Administration students at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs. They are working with Ambassador John Campbell on a graduate practicum project, which was made possible by faculty adviser Professor Anne Nelson. A version of this post appeared on the World Policy Blog. Read more »

Shekau’s Latest Video and the Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
People carry a banner with an image of Boko Haram leader?Abubakar?Shekau?as they protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, along a road in Lagos May 12, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) People carry a banner with an image of Boko Haram leader?Abubakar?Shekau?as they protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, along a road in Lagos May 12, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Shekau’s latest video has generated international excitement, not least because it raises the hope (I would say chimera) for a negotiated release of the kidnapped school girls. Shekau has once again shown himself a master at manipulating public opinion, both domestic and international. I leave for a later blog post consideration of the possibility of negotiations. Read more »

Boko Haram Kidnapping Protests Go Viral

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington May 6, 2014. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington May 6, 2014. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is currently an officer in the Army National Guard. His interests are in Africa, conflict, and conflict resolution.

Recently we have seen a great amount of social awareness and dissent among Nigerian’s regarding how the government has handled the conflict with Boko Haram. The impetus for this reaction has been the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from four towns in Borno State: Izge, Lassa, Ashigashiya and Warabe. Within Nigeria there have now been protests in KadunaAbuja, and as far south as Lagos. Through the use of social media these protests have now spread across the world to include Washington and New York City. Read more »

Unanswered Questions About The Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
A soldier walks past a burnt vehicle during a military patrol in Hausari village, near Maiduguri and the Sambisa forest, June 5, 2013. (Joe Brock/Courtesy Reuters) A soldier walks past a burnt vehicle during a military patrol in Hausari village, near Maiduguri and the Sambisa forest, June 5, 2013. (Joe Brock/Courtesy Reuters)

The kidnapping of Nigerian school girls has outraged Nigerian and international opinion. The failure to find and release them after two weeks has further discredited the federal government and the Jonathan administration. This episode, combined with the bombing of a suburban Abuja bus terminal the day before the kidnapping, has brought home to the Nigerian public that their country’s crisis cannot be walled-off in the far northeast of the country. Read more »

A “Soft Approach” to Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by John Campbell
Demonstrators confront a police officer (L) during a protest against the elimination of a popular fuel subsidy that has doubled the price of petrol, in Nigeria's capital Abuja January 9, 2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Demonstrators confront a police officer (L) during a protest against the elimination of a popular fuel subsidy that has doubled the price of petrol, in Nigeria's capital Abuja January 9, 2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Many of Nigeria’s foreign friends have urged the Jonathan government to pursue a northern strategy that makes use of “softer” methods rather than a sole focus on “counter-terrorism” to respond to militants labeled “Boko Haram.” While “Counter-terrorism” places an emphasis on military action against the insurgency; there needs to be a greater focus on addressing its root causes, to “win the hearts and minds” of local people wherever possible. Read more »

A Very Bad Week for Nigeria

by John Campbell
A man walks between vehicles that were destroyed during an attack by Boko Haram militants in Bama, Borno State, February 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A man walks between vehicles that were destroyed during an attack by Boko Haram militants in Bama, Borno State, February 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Below is the Weekly Update for April 12-17 from the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST). It can also be found here. Last week was Holy Week and Passover. It was probably the worst week for violence and carnage since Nigeria’s 1967-70 civil war. Read more »