John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Putin’s Russia and Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, August 13, 2015
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Eugene Steinberg, an assistant editor at the Council on Foreign Relations.

From 1961 to 1992, one of Moscow’s most prestigious schools bore the name of Patrice Lumumba, the Soviet-supported Congolese independence leader brutally executed in 1961. Patrice Lumumba University recruited and educated generations of foreign leaders, especially African leaders, and was just one of the many ways in which the Soviet Union cultivated ties with Africa. Then with the fall of the Soviet Union, after years of pouring money, arms, and manpower into left-leaning anticolonial movements, Russia’s presence in Africa, and Lumumba University, nearly disappeared overnight. But today, two decades later, Russia is once again working to establish a foothold on the continent. Read more »

Boko Haram’s Shekau Replaced? Not So Fast

by John Campbell Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, Chad's President Idriss Deby and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (L-R) pose during the presentation of the communique of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, June 11, 2015. Nigeria and its neighbours agreed on Thursday to set up a joint military force to counter Boko Haram, a sign of President Muhammadu Buhari's intent to crush the Islamist militant group early in his tenure. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, Chad's President Idriss Deby and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (L-R) pose during the presentation of the communique of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, June 11, 2015. Nigeria and its neighbours agreed on Thursday to set up a joint military force to counter Boko Haram, a sign of President Muhammadu Buhari's intent to crush the Islamist militant group early in his tenure. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Chadian President Idriss Deby’s August 11 comments that Abubakar Shekau has been replaced by Mahamat Daoud and that the latter is open to negotiations with Nigeria’s Buhari government, has predictably stirred the Western media. (As of August 12, the story is not yet featured by the Nigerian media.) As is usual with stories about potential negotiations, Western media ties this story to hopes for freedom for the more than 200 Chibok school girls. Read more »

Women and the Boko Haram Insurgency

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, August 11, 2015
A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

In June 2014, Nigeria experienced its first attack by a female suicide bomber. Since then, Boko Haram has increasingly used girls and women as operatives in suicide attacks on soft targets. According to the Nigeria Security Tracker, Female suicide bombers have been responsible for over 200 deaths since May 2015, nearly half of all casualties from Boko Haram-attributed suicide bombings during this period. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 1-August 8

by John Campbell Monday, August 10, 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 August 1, 2015 to August 8, 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 »

Cleaning up the Mess at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation

by John Campbell Thursday, August 6, 2015
Joseph Thlama Dawha (R), group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), listens to Bernard Otti, deputy group managing director and executive director for finance and accounts, at a news conference on the forensic audit of the company which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, in Abuja February 11, 2015. NNPC said on February 5 that the audit has cleared it of the allegation that it failed to remit $20 billion owed to the state. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the audit in early 2014 after former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said an estimated $20 billion in oil revenues had been withheld from the Federation Account. The news conference was held by NNPC to reiterate its position on the matter. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Joseph Thlama Dawha (R), group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), listens to Bernard Otti, deputy group managing director and executive director for finance and accounts, at a news conference on the forensic audit of the company which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, in Abuja February 11, 2015. NNPC said on February 5 that the audit has cleared it of the allegation that it failed to remit $20 billion owed to the state. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the audit in early 2014 after former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said an estimated $20 billion in oil revenues had been withheld from the Federation Account. The news conference was held by NNPC to reiterate its position on the matter. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The Natural Resource Governance Institute, a New York-based think tank and advocacy organization, has issued a must-read report, Inside NNPC Oil Sales: A Case for Reform in Nigeria. The authors are Aaron Sayne, Alexandra Gilles, and Christina Katsouris. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) sells about half of Nigeria’s oil, worth an estimated $41 billion in 2013. Read more »

South Africa’s Independent Judiciary

by John Campbell Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Party (EFF), waves to supporters during his party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ruling Afican National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma in power. (Courtesy Reuters/Skyler Reid) Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Party (EFF), waves to supporters during his party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ruling Afican National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma in power. (Courtesy Reuters/Skyler Reid)

Julius Malema has been convicted of anti-white hate speech, and advocates the nationalization of white property without compensation. He has attacked the governing African National Congress (ANC) establishment, ranging from former president Thabo Mbeki to current president Jacob Zuma to possible future president Cyril Ramaphosa. He is the founder of a radical, populist political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which won 6 percent of the vote in the 2014 elections, making it the third largest party in parliament. The EFF has disrupted parliamentary sittings, notably in its protests against President Zuma’s alleged corruption with respect to his private estate, Nkandla. Read more »

A Primer on Nigeria’s Oil Bunkering

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinary burns after a military chase in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. Despite billions of dollars worth of oil flowing out of Nigeria South East, life for the majority of Niger Delta's inhabitants remains unchanged. Most people live in modest iron-roofed shacks, and rely on farming or fishing, their only interaction with the oil industry being when they step over pipelines in the swamps – or when a spill blights their landscape. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinary burns after a military chase in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. Despite billions of dollars worth of oil flowing out of Nigeria South East, life for the majority of Niger Delta's inhabitants remains unchanged. Most people live in modest iron-roofed shacks, and rely on farming or fishing, their only interaction with the oil industry being when they step over pipelines in the swamps – or when a spill blights their landscape. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

This is a guest post by Emily Mangan, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Energy and Environment Program. She studies environmental policy at Skidmore College.

After resuming from recess, the Nigerian Senate pledged to increase the country’s oil revenue by reducing oil theft. Doing so would greatly increase Nigeria’s total oil exports and reduce oil spills that cause severe environmental damage in the Niger Delta. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update July 25-July 31

by John Campbell Monday, August 3, 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 July 25, 2015 to July 31, 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 »

Better Economic News from South Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, July 30, 2015
Mineworkers walk to the Wonderkop stadium near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine for check-ins before returning to work, June 25, 2014. Tens of thousands of South African platinum miners returned to work on Wednesday after wage deals ended the longest and most damaging strike in the country's history. (Reuters/Skyler Reid) Mineworkers walk to the Wonderkop stadium near Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine for check-ins before returning to work, June 25, 2014. Tens of thousands of South African platinum miners returned to work on Wednesday after wage deals ended the longest and most damaging strike in the country's history. (Reuters/Skyler Reid)

South Africa’s general malaise owes much to its very slow recovery from the international economic crisis that began in the United States in 2008. The country’s gross domestic product growth rate has declined from a usual 3 percent to 1.5 percent in 2014. Weaker commodities prices have also slowed an economy that still includes a large mineral export sector. Read more »

African Chiefs of State and the Law

by John Campbell Wednesday, July 29, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015. Obama toured a U.S.-supported food factory in Ethiopia on Tuesday on the last leg of an Africa trip, before winding up his visit at the African Union where he will become the first U.S. president to address the 54-nation body. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015. Obama toured a U.S.-supported food factory in Ethiopia on Tuesday on the last leg of an Africa trip, before winding up his visit at the African Union where he will become the first U.S. president to address the 54-nation body. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

In his rightfully celebrated speech at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa on July 28, President Barack Obama proclaimed, “no one person is above the law, not even the president.” This is a fundamental principle of American law, based on centuries of English precedent, but it is by no means universally accepted. Read more »