Multi-millionaire eats Tuo Zaafi…..at Maamobi Chop bar regularly
For a man who owns two private jets and runs a multi-million dollar company that is into the construction, crashing and reclamation sites of gold mines, the least of places you expect to see him is the slums of Maamobi near Nima inside a Chop Bar eating Tuo Zaafi; a local dish, for lunch on a Sunday afternoon.
Visitors to social media site facebook, were shell-shocked to see pictures of “the always in the news” junior brother of President John Dramani Mahama, Michael Ibrahim Mahama with two bowls in front of him; one with a piece of meat and other with Tuo Zaafi busily eating.
What made it more interesting for the man, who has caught the attention of international media organizations, such as the BBC, CNN, Aljazeera among others courtesy the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for flying one of his private jets to a US-sanctioned country; Iran, was not just eating Tuo Zaafi in Accra’s popular Shanty town, but wiping sweat from his face, as though he carried the bag of maize used to prepare it.
At best, President Mahama’s brother, Ibrahim, whose American Bombardier CL 600 private aircraft is being held in trust for him by an American bank in Utah, should be eating a continental cuisine at one of the best hotels in the national capital as most Ghanaians with less than US$100,000, will do.
However, “Carlito” as he is called by his peers – after Al Pacino’s crime character in the film; “Carlito’s Way” – has a down to earth side and uses this approach to get things done, without making noise about them. He is also frank-speaking to the point of being mistaken as snobbish.
Recently, he was reported to have gotten his workers from Engineers and Planners (E&P) unto the Tema Motorway to repair a broken-down bridge free of charge; something the Minister of Roads and Highway, Amin Amidu Sulemana, was budgeting millions of dollars for, took about four days to complete and not six weeks as projected by the Ministry.
Ibrahim also called “Baba” or “IB” is said to be so generous to a fault. He continuously show love and affection to most fierce critics of his brother’s regime including, buying cars for journalists, securing them jobs, paying their bills among others, as though their criticism was favouring his brother’s administration.
Indeed, a story is told of him paying medical bills of the late President, John Evans Atta Mills, then opposition leader, but when he became president with his brother as Vice-President, Ibrahim Mahama’s businesses were so squeezed that he had to relocate his heavy earth-moving equipment to Liberia and other African countries looking for jobs.
A visit to his house near Gold House at the “Kawo Kudi Intersection” is as though he runs an orphanage. Loads of people with different problems queue to meet and tell him their stories, mostly money-related. Most of these people will end up at his table eating the very meal he has been served.
Interestingly, it is from this same table you hear multi-million dollar contracts being negotiated openly with his numerous South African and European expatriate workers on one hand and businessmen on the other as if his company E&P has no trade secrets or competitors waiting to snatch the contract from them.
Upon a first meeting, you could mistake him for being the messenger or a driver of one of the earth-moving machines, but he is the owner and controller of many things including, sorting out the Very Large Mahama Family’s challenges.
But despite his down to earth, frankness and generosity, he taste betrayals.
With Godfather like ex-President John Kufuor, obviously most members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), will be his friends, yet they were the ones who bruised him most over the Merchant Bank loan they gave him and later varied the terms of that loan to create difficulty for him and his company.
The reason was that he bought Pickup cars to support his brother’s campaign as in 2008, when he was the running mate to late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Again, it was from that Merchant Bank loan that elements within the NDC, decided to fix him, wanting to be his Godfathers and collect dues from his successful business ventures. When that was turned down, stories were
cooked and planted in the media to embarrass him and his brother; the President as having chopped pensioners’ money deposited at the state-owned bank, now christened Universal Merchant Bank.
Indeed, you will eat in the most expensive restaurant when you have a beach house at Ada with lots of servants, speedboats and all kind of water vehicles at your disposal, but not for a man who attended Tamale Secondary School (TAMASCO) in the Northern Region and West African Secondary School (WASS) in the Greater Accra Region and Speak eight languages fluently, namely; English, Ga, Twi, Hausa, Fante, Dagbani, Ewe and Gonja.
You could mistake him for a Muslim, but Ibrahim Mahama is a Roman Catholic, having been born to a Roman Catholic mother; Joyce Tamakloe from Whuti in the Volta Region and liberal father, Emmanuel Adama Mahama from Bole in the Northern Region.
He humbly started his E&P company in 1996 after his return from London. His first job was with famous rice growing company, Quality Grain Limited at Aveyime in the Volta Region.
E&P, cleared the sites for the setting up of the company and the planting of the rice. The company has since died a political death.
His second major job was the construction of the Sankara Interchange in Accra again, clearing the site and carting away debris in partnership with a company called Demark.
What moved him to the capital intensive-mining-business was a stint E&P had with Goldfields International and he decided to stay, ripping fortunes with his special trait of not afraid of taking risk in the face of dire consequences.
Close family sources who knew him from his days at Okponglo near East Legon, told The Herald, Carlito does not care, he could just move his car or motorbike and go to a “Chop Bar” especially in Nima to eat his favourite Tuo Zaafi “he doesn’t really care whether you know him or not”.
He is said to be a friend of ex-President, Jerry Rawlings and enjoys a very cordial relationship with Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP.