It is roughly six years or so, since the nation of Ghana was struck with a calamity. On July 24th 2012, the sad and untimely news of the sudden demise of the late Hon Alh Aliu Mahama alias Lidra, the former Vice President of Ghana, took the country by storm. The entire government of ex-President, HE John Kufuor and Ghana as a whole, was sad and shaken by the premature loss of Vice President Mahama, a rare-gem of a person. The late Aliu Mahama was one of the most humble, down-to-earth, kind-hearted and philanthropic business tycoon turned politician that Ghaha, if not Africa, has ever had. I will not hesitate to add that Ghana was indeed lucky to have had a person of Lidra’s calibre as a VP. He was such a bighearted rich man, whose kindness and generosity was demonstrated in an unprecedented demeanour and sheer sincerity. Alh Aliu Mahama’s unreserved benevolence was directly felt by people from all walks of life, home and abroad. His humane touch and tender heartedness was a console even for the downtrodden and strangers. In the following personal story, I wish to briefly recount my encounter with Alh Aliu. It is a personal story, which I felt obliged and compelled to share with the good people of Ghana and the world at large.
It was one fateful afternoon in September 1993, when I returned from Kumasi to Chief Alh Abdul Kadir Tahir’s compound, in Koko mle mle, Arrca. I was happy and excited that I had obtained a place in my dream school. Unexpectedly, one of Chief’s brothers, Malam Sayuti called me into his room and asked if I knew Alh Aliu Mahama. I wondered why such a question and took some time pondering without uttering a word and realising my bafflement, he quickly added ‘Lidra’. I then nodded my head and told him that Lidra was a household name in the North, and thus, of course, I know him by name but not personal. In fact, the name Lidra does not only resonate a very rich man, but also a ‘Patron’ of my alma mater, Yendi Secondary School. Afa Sayuti then informed me that Alh Aliu did call from Tamale and said that when schools reopen, I should go to Tamale Secondary School, because he has already acquired a sixth form admission for me in that school. I tried to explain to Afa Sayuti that, already I have had my admission confirmed with TI Ahmadiyya Secondary School in Kumasi, which was indeed my first choice for A Level studies.
However, Afa Sayuti said that Alh Aliu has really emphasised that whatever the case, he wanted me to attend the same school as he (Lidra) did, and hence Tamasco. As I considered giving a plausible excuse, Afa reached out for a small piece of paper from underneath his prayer mat and handed it to me. ‘’This is Alh Aliu’s telephone number, he said that you should call him when you arrive in Tamale’’. This sentence instantaneously instigated memories of the wise words of the late Chief Imam of Yendi, Imam Alh Amadu Hussein, who once advised me to never say no to a spontaneous offer of honour. This advice came when I was once dismissed from Yendi Secondary School for refusing to accept the offer of student leadership of the said school. I said no, thank you, based on the fact that I was a foreigner, whose plate was already too full with so many things to learn about in Ghana and in the North for that matter. But a quick reminiscence of this valuable advice and the adviser, who was then no more, made me reluctantly accept the offer to go back to the North, to Tamasco. Thanks to Allah, the rest of my story in Tamasco was an indelible history that made Alh Aliu, Alh Baba Imoro (Repella), Chief Alh Abdul Kadir Tahir as well as my Gambian parents, fulfilled.
Trying not to bore my readers, long story cut short, Alh Aliu Mahama was a man of high integrity, humility, philanthropy and a statesman of great loyalty and patriotism. His devotion to national duty and the socio-economic, religious and cultural needs of all and sundry cannot be overemphasised. He has led a life of selfless service and sacrifice anchored on humbleness, prudence, courage, maturity and levelheadedness. His combined business, socio-cultural and political life was commendable and adorable making him the enviable envy of others. May Allah forgive his sins and grant him Jannatul Firdaus. Ameen