Feature Article of Monday, 26 November 2012

Columnist: Iddi, Bimu Nka

Who Killed Aliu Mahama ?

On the 16th of November, 2012, Ghanaians were hit with news of the death of a prominent son: His Excellency Alhaji Aliu Mahama (of blessed memory).

Like Prof Attah Mills, the late Aliu Mahama (until his death) was the subject of a barrage of criticisms from a cross section of Ghanaians: from those within the NPP party and those without; from those from the North and those without; from those within the Zongo communities and those without; from Muslims and non-Muslims. The difference between Aliu Mahama and Prof Mills in the way they were reprimanded, chastised and bastardized by the people they served, lay in the modus operandi used by their critics. While Prof Mills was openly bastardized for one offence or the other, most of Aliu’s critics did that critiquing behind the scenes. But like my people say, if you want God to hear what you have to say, you tell the smoke. And Aliu Mahama heard everything that was said about him.

And what was his misdemeanour? What his offence was depended on who you talk to. If one spoke to the Northern folks (especially some of the people of Dagbon), Aliu Mahama was the Messiah-that-never-was: he came to bury Dagbon and not to praise it. Those who belong to this school of thought are always quick at bastardizing Aliu for the cacophony of his silence over the dastardly act of cowardice involving the daylight slaughter of the King of Dagbon. They have it that if indeed Aliu was a true son of Dagbon (and remember Dagombas are a proud people who love their own ), he would have insisted that the right things be done; that a proper committee of enquiry would have been set up to investigate the circumstances that led to the assassination of Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani. His taciturnity on the issue led to theories making the rounds that he is not from Dagbon (that his father is a Hausa man) and that that made his allegiance to Dagbon divided. Be it as it may, these were stories that wiggled their way into Aliu Mahama’s ears and caused him distress of elephantine proportions.

If one dismissed the concerns of Dagbon as the rantings of a rather ethnocentric people (as some of you will have us believe) whose tendencies and beliefs are anachronistic (as some of you will argue), then one is faced with the concerns of the Zongolese who believe that Aliu’s performance in Kuffuor’s 8-year reign was (to say the least) abysmal in its depth of failure. In the shanty towns of Mamobi up the bidonvilles of Nima in Accra through to the slums of Aboabo and Sabon Zango in Kumasi, the talk is that the late Aliu Mahama could have done better than what he did (if at all he is credited with any achievements). They will argue that it was during Aliu’s time (as a Moslem Vice President) that Hajj pilgrims were subjected to the most inhumane treatment ever. They will argue that Aliu Mahama could have used his influence and contacts as Vice President to source funding for the completion of the Kumasi Central Mosque. They will argue that he could have used his contacts to source funding for the construction of mosques in Tamale, Kumasi or even for himself in Accra (like Asuma Banda has). For those in the diaspora, it wasn’t very much about the building of mosques. It was about helping them secure jobs back home in that (they will argue), no matter how far the hen may wonder away from its coop, it will surely return to it. And returning, most of them couldn’t, because their brother and father who is supposed to take them out under the shackles of racism and perpetual oppression they were suffering in the hands of the Whiteman has “conveniently” chosen not to bat an eyelid to their bellowing cry.

What these people did not know however is that their son, brother and uncle was nothing more than a toothless bulldog who was being used and abused by Mr Kuffuor and his NPP. One theory has it that the relationship between Mr Kuffuor and Aliu Mahama turned sour since 2000 when Kuffuor’s “man of God” told him that Aliu Mahama was spiritually plotting against him (Kuffuor). The ex-president believed in this story so much so that he clandestinely relieved Alhaji Aliu Mahama of any role in the Castle. He had to do it in a very smart way though: Kuffuor knew how sensitive and strategic Aliu Mahama was to his success among the people of Dagbon and people of Northern descent. He knew that any attempt at openly relieving Aliu of his post could spell electoral doom for the NPP in the elections – that was something Kuffuor could not afford to do (seeing that he needed to secure his Second term to advance his property-owning-democracy mantra). Hence the strategy was to make him a rubber stamp- a toothless bulldog who had no specific responsibilities in the government. Mr Kojo Mpiani was the man who called the shots and so powerful was Mr Mpiani that he could do anything except change a man into a woman. Unbeknown to the people of Dagbon however, here was a son (a Vice President) who they could depend on to get things done. Hence when they went to Aliu with common issues like helping to secure a scholarship for their wards and Aliu shilly-shallied, they found it difficult to understand. But those who knew knew that Aliu Mahama (in Kuffuor’s government) was nothing more than a ceremonial Vice President (with no real powers). Infact, those who were close to Kuffuor’s corridors-of-power have it that so toothless was Aliu Mahama that he couldn’t ask a common administrator (let alone a Minister) to do something. If he needed something done, he would have to called Mr Kojo Mpiani.

The truth which remains unknown to many a Northerner and his brethren in the South (the Zongolese) is that the late Aliu Mahama couldn’t have come out to tell the world the sort of emotional and psychological torture he was being subjected to in the hands of the very man (Kuffuor) he supported when the going got tough. In politics, these things have got to be done with a high degree of decorum and circumspection. And what a decorous man Aliu Mahama was. He held it all in even as he was suffering from both angles. And that was why he stood for elections as the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party so that perchance if he had won, he could go on to fight for the presidency. This would have given him the opportunity to redeem his image in the eyes of many in the Zongo communities who banked their confidence in him but only got a pittance back. So that he could redeem his image in the eyes of the market women in the markets of Tamale who saw in him a Messiah who was destined to take them out under the shackles of the scorching sun and the skin-ravaging harmattan wind. But one thing the affable Aliu Mahama failed to realise was that the New Patriotic Party is for “y3n Akanfuo” and that over-our-dead-bodies will we allow a “ta ne” to lead our party. And it was on those avowed principles that the delegates voted to put Aliu Mahama on the third position with a nauseating 6.39 per cent of the total votes. For a man who diligently served party and nation with all his might and heart, the results sent shock waves through Alhaji Aliu’s heart (a situation he never recovered from until his death on the 16th of November). That is the first theory explaining the untimely death of Aliu Mahama. And it is this theory which makes many a Northerner cry in their hearts about the potential future of Dr Bawumiah! They fear that he will be subjected to the same level of emotional molestation as was done to his late brother (that is IF the NPP wins the December 7th elections).

The second theory has it that Aliu Mahama was on the campaign platform of the NPP in Bono Ahafo Region when he collapsed, banging his head on a concrete floor. As cunning as the NPP is, and because they did not want their political opponents to make political capital out of the situation, he was surreptitiously rushed to Tamale where he received treatment. But the situation never really improved but rather deteriorated with the passage of time until his death. So when Mr Kuffuor argued that Aliu Mahama “Died Campaigning for NPP” as reported by peacefm, he meant it literally. And that is where the other political parties must come in: to ask for autopsy on the body of Aliu Mahama. As a nation, we deserve to know the true cause of his death as the NPP requested to know the cause of death of the late Prof Mills. We deserve to know because we want to ride on facts and not on hearsays. We deserve to know the truth about the role played by Aliu Mahama under the Kuffuor regime. We want to know because we care for Dr Bawumiah and do not want him to be used and abused by a bunch of power-hungry ethnocentric politicians who in their desperation to win power are throwing dust in the eyes of Ghanaians by presenting people (Bawumiah) they have no love and respect for. We deserve to know because a time has come for the records to be set straight. We deserve to know who killed Aliu Mahama !

Bimu Nka Iddi London