John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Big Men: Ghana, Nigeria, and the United States

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, April 4, 2014
Ebiowei, 48, carries an empty oil container on his head to a place where it would be filled with refined fuel at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Ebiowei, 48, carries an empty oil container on his head to a place where it would be filled with refined fuel at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Emily Mellgard, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

A great discovery often brings together strange bedfellows. Such is the case when the Jubilee Oil Field is discovered within Ghana’s national waters in the Gulf of Guinea. The heights and depths of the relationships between the people and groups pulled together around this oil field is the subject of the new Rachel Boyton (director) and Brad Pitt (producer) documentary Big Men. The documentary was filmed over five years from first discovery of the oil field to nearing “first oil” -when actual production begins. Read more »

Nigerian Human Rights Organization Calls for an Inquiry into March 30 Deaths at Security Services Headquarters

by John Campbell Thursday, April 3, 2014
An army vehicle is seen parked at the entrance of the LEA primary school refugee centre, following a raid by gunmen who killed over 100 people last Friday at Angwan Gata, Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) An army vehicle is seen parked at the entrance of the LEA primary school refugee centre, following a raid by gunmen who killed over 100 people last Friday at Angwan Gata, Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Access to Justice, a distinguished Nigerian human rights organization, has released a statement which questions the official explanation for the shoot-out between the security forces and alleged Boko Haram detainees on March 30 in Abuja at the headquarters of the State Security Services. The incident resulted in the death of twenty-one detainees. In a published statement on April 2, the executive director, Joseph Otteh, in effect demolishes the official explanation of what happened and calls for an independent inquiry, which would be published and available to the public. He also calls for any person that killed a detainee without lawful justification to be brought to justice. Read more »

HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Children run past a mural painting of an Aids ribbon at a school in Khutsong Township, 74 km (46 miles) west of Johannesburg, August 22, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Children run past a mural painting of an Aids ribbon at a school in Khutsong Township, 74 km (46 miles) west of Johannesburg, August 22, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) published the “South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, and Behaviour Survey, 2012” on April 1, 2014. It is the definitive survey of HIV/AIDS in South Africa to date, and is part of a series, with earlier surveys published in 2002, 2005, and 2009. The Survey is funded by, among others, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Read more »

Crimes Against Humanity and Nigeria’s Giwa Barracks

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 1, 2014
A soldier examines a wall riddled with bullets, from an attack by Boko Haram militants, in front of a house in Bama, Borno State, February 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A soldier examines a wall riddled with bullets, from an attack by Boko Haram militants, in front of a house in Bama, Borno State, February 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Amnesty International, the London-based non-governmental human rights organization, has issued a report, “Nigeria: More than 1,500 Killed in North-Eastern Nigeria in Early 2014.” Of particular interest is its dissection of what happened on March 14 at Giwa Barracks, the largest military facility in Maiduguri, Borno State. Read more »

What Happened Sunday Morning in Abuja?

by John Campbell Monday, March 31, 2014
A police officer keeps watch 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) A police officer keeps watch 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)

According to the Nigerian media, there was heavy gunfire that may have lasted some hours very close to Aso Rock, the presidential villa, starting at about 7:15 a.m. Sunday morning. The gunfire appears to have been centered at Yellow House, the headquarters of the State Security Services (SSS). Read more »

Al Shabaab, AMISOM, and the United States

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, March 28, 2014
A woman walks by an armoured vehicle of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) outside the perimeter area of the Kismayu airport, November 11, 2013. (Siegfried Modola/Courtesy Reuters) A woman walks by an armoured vehicle of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) outside the perimeter area of the Kismayu airport, November 11, 2013. (Siegfried Modola/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, program coordinator, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

In a recent article on the Daily Maverick, Simon Allison identifies the “surprisingly perceptive” core message of al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane’s recent propaganda audio message. Read more »

Really, Really Rich People in Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, March 27, 2014
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (back L) looks on as Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote points to the site of a new cement plant branch during a commissioning ceremony at the Dangote cement factory in Obajana, Kogi state, June 11, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (back L) looks on as Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote points to the site of a new cement plant branch during a commissioning ceremony at the Dangote cement factory in Obajana, Kogi state, June 11, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

According to Forbes, the first African ever has entered into the “top 25” of the world’s billionaires. He is Aliko Dangote, number 23. Forbes says that his net worth is now U.S. $25 billion up from $3.3 billion in 2007. His wealth is based on cement, but he is also investing in agriculture. Read more »

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Releases New Videos

by John Campbell Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Pius Nna, the village head of Angwan Gata, walks through one of the rooms destroyed when gunmen attacked his village in Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 19, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Pius Nna, the village head of Angwan Gata, walks through one of the rooms destroyed when gunmen attacked his village in Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 19, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

On March 14, fighting broke out in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, including at the Giwa Barracks –the military’s main headquarters in Borno. “Boko Haram” claims it secured the release of two thousand detainees during the siege on the barracks. Abubakar Shekau released two new videos to claim responsibility for the attack. Read more »

“To Live and Die in LA,” and Maiduguri

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, March 25, 2014
A dog walks past burnt houses in Angwan Gata village, in Kaura local government area, Kaduna State, March 19, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A dog walks past burnt houses in Angwan Gata village, in Kaura local government area, Kaduna State, March 19, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/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.

Northeastern Nigeria increasingly resembles the world depicted in the 1985 film, To Live and Die in LA. Directed by William Friedkin, the story is about Secret Service agents’ pursuit of a counterfeiter. In the process, differences between criminals and law enforcement personnel nearly disappear. A reviewer observes that the criminals have more of an inner life than the law enforcers, whose actions are “endlessly self-consuming,” leading to “meaningless death and brutality.” A “contradictory moral universe” emerges “where the wrong people die and redemption is an illusion.” Read more »

Fireworks During White House Meeting of Northern Nigerian Governors

by John Campbell Monday, March 24, 2014
Kwire-Mana, Kpafrato II, Homun Honest Stephen (R), receives his staff of office from Adamawa state governor, Murtala Nyako, during a presentation ceremony at Makwada Square in Numan, Adamawa state, December 7, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Kwire-Mana, Kpafrato II, Homun Honest Stephen (R), receives his staff of office from Adamawa state governor, Murtala Nyako, during a presentation ceremony at Makwada Square in Numan, Adamawa state, December 7, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

On March 18, governors from Nigeria’s north and Middle Belt met with U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and other U.S. officials at the White House. The governors come from states where economic development is slow or non-existent and includes those where the radical, Islamist insurgency “Boko Haram” is active. Read more »