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Opinions of Monday, 31 December 2012

Columnist: Sayibu, Akilu

In Memory Of The Late Vice President Of Ghana

; His Excellency Alhaji Aliu Mahama

When I lost my biological father on the 16th May 2011, the former vice president was among the first ten people to call to sympathize with me. My dad had died around 12:58pm so he told me that it was late for him to come down to Tamale for the burial as he was in Accra.

He encouraged me to remain calm and told me that he was always available to play any role my late dad would have played if he were still alive. The following day he was in Tamale and was present during the third day funeral of my late dad. He came for the Islamic preaching that took place in the house on subsequent days and had to leave for Kumasi for the funeral of one of the brothers of former President Kufour.

I knew Lidra, as he was affectionately known in Tamale, before he got into politics. I was however not very free with him until he was told of how I was his avid admirer and supporter in Tamale by the late chief of Wamale and the current chief of Dunyin in Tamale. He requested those chiefs to bring me to him for familiarization on January 5 2005 just before he was sworn in as vice president of Ghana for the second term. He was so very impressed when we interacted and asked me to keep in constant touch with him. He gave me his private phone number and we indeed were in very active touch. He had his biological children but I must say I was so intimate with him to the extent that everybody started calling me Aliu’s boy wherever I went. My loyalty and faithfulness to the late Aliu was evident in my many write ups in the media including the internet. When he expressed his desire to contest the NPP flagbearership position in 2007, I was in London studying but I still took up the internet works of communicating on why he was the very best for the position. The evidence is still available. I won good friends and bad friends then, because I was extremely vociferous on my desire to see Aliu Mahama lead the NPP. My wish did not actualize as he placed third after the presidential primaries. I came to Ghana on holidays after the primaries and he showed deep appreciation to me for the work I did to market him. He urged me to keep it up and added that his friends across the globe were always asking him who Akilu Sayibu was as a result of my support for him in my write ups. The confidence the old man developed in me was legend. I ate with him at the Castle when he was veep and at times took some presidential rides with him anytime I came to Ghana. The name Akilu Sayibu was known to all his security detail both when he was in government and outside government. Those of us who were so close with him knew how passionate he was about peace and development of Dagbon. He abhorred the perennial chieftaincy fights in Dagbon but the irony was that he was most times wrongly accused of being part of the problem. His key message anytime he was given the opportunity to talk in Dagbon was that: “let’s fight poverty and not ourselves. We need our children to be productive citizens in future and quarrels won’t help them achieve their goals” “If we don’t unite as Dagombas, we and our children will miss a lot of opportunities” he used to add and never minced words to explain how the Dagbon crisis affected Dagombas in terms of trust and brotherhood including job opportunities and promotions. The last time I met him was on the Eid-l-adha celebrations at the mosque at the Tamale Jubilee Park. He went round and greeted some elders after the prayers and later came to North Star fm in Tamale to give his Eid Message to the people. I was in the studio with him including Sheikh T.B. Damba, the 2nd National Chairperson of the NPP, and Mustapha Ali Idris among other people. His message was purely on unity in dagbon and of the need for all of us to forgive one another of any wrong acts and move together as one people with a common destiny. Little did I know that his Excellency was delivering his farewell message to the people of Dagbon. We went to his private residence at Kalpohin were he was buried for lunch. He later organized a party for the people of Tamale and left for Accra later. Before he left I told him it was very urgent to support my parliamentary project and he told me he will get back to me on getting to Accra. I was later in Accra and on a certain Saturday Afternoon when I missed his calls 4 times as I was asleep. When I woke up I called back and he couldn’t answer. My information later revealed that he fell ill later that Saturday and that was the beginning of his journey to the next world. Since his death I have been asking myself what message it was that he was to deliver to me that sleep robbed me of it? Alhaji Aliu Mahama was a first class gentleman, first class philanthropist and a deeply committed Muslim. Thousands depended on him for their livelihood and other forms of support including myself. He was extremely instrumental in my desire to represent Tamale North in parliament. I am typing this tribute from Accra and I must admit that I keep on missing him. He would have called me today and say: come to the house for supper. With the elections over he would have asked me why I didn’t win the Tamale North seat for the NPP. He would have told me not to worry and assist me with my next activity in life. I am living quietly somewhere in Accra praying for him with believe that it is well with him over there.

I intend in my own small way to institute an Aliu Mahama memorial lectures on the 16th of November every year in his honor. It will be a platform to celebrate his life and an opportunity to encourage other Northerners to aspire to greater heights. When the time comes I will need your support to make it a huge success. Rest in Peace my political godfather, Aliu Mahama…. I miss you

By Akilu Sayibu