Like Algeria, like Nigeria
By Anthony Opara
The people of Algeria went to the polls today to choose new parliamentarians. But at the bottom of it all is a deeper inquiry into the future of the country.
And this country does have many things in common with Nigeria.
Even as Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, Algeria is Africa’s largest nation in terms of landmass.
Again, like in Nigeria, the military and security services, retired and serving, have really not been too far away from the political process.
Also, Islamic terrorism is a present and living scourge in both nations. For the current elections for example, the country’s land borders have been closed to protect the process from terrorism and unrest.
Economically, both countries are caught in a somewhat prolonged slump even as the search for new leadership and direction is stalled.
Algerians have like Nigerians suffered election annulment.
When the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party which led the struggle for independence from France and governed the country from 1962 till date allowed free elections in 1992, the Islamists won in a landslide. The army intervened and annulled the results.
Today, almost like in Nigeria, the army still runs the country but from behind the scenes; Algerians refer to their rulers as Le Pouvoir, a shadowy collection of generals and spymasters who they claim have the real power.
Like Buhari in Nigeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the president of Algeria is no youth. he is 80. Also, his health is challenged: he has had at least one severe stroke, rarely appears in public, and is increasingly a recluse that is much out of touch with the Algerian people.
Again, like in Nigeria, Algeria has a dominantly youthful population. One-quarter of Algeria’s 41 million people are under 15 years old. Seventy percent are under 30.
Bouteflika of Algeria