In the beginning of his kingship, Otumfuo Opemsuo Osei Tutu II made a name for himself as a king who came in from the crowd to bring dignity to the chieftaincy institution in Asanteman in particular and Ghana in general. He carried himself with the dignity of a paramount chief par excellence.
Like the Morenaba of Ouagadougou, the Buganda of Uganda, the Sadauna of Sokoto, the Zulu King and of cause the Ya Na of the great Dagbon kingdom, the Asantehene is one of the few kings in Africa who is internationally renowned and revered.
Yours sincerely was therefore not surprised when ex-president Kufuor charged him and some other eminent chiefs to see to it that the Dagbon chieftaincy fracas was settled to bring peace to the great kingdom.
It started in March 2002 when the two factions locked horns in a bitter fight that ended with the death of the Ya Na, some of his elders and some Abudus as well.
In the wake of the confusion, the then sitting president went on the national radio to appeal for calm, and went further to institute the Wuaku Commission to look into the circumstances that led to the fracas and make recommendations to the government.
At the Wuaku Commission, both Abudus and Andanis had the opportunity to tell their side of the story.
Sadly, a few days to the end of the sitting of the commission, the Andanis boycotted the commission. However, the commission went ahead to listen to other witnesses and thereafter completed its job and presented the report to the government.
To bring lasting peace to the people of Dagbon, ex-president Kufuor set up the Council of Eminent Chiefs, headed by the Asantehene, to bring both sides to the table to seek peace.
After several sittings, the Council of Eminent Chiefs came out with a roadmap which they believed if followed to the letter, will finally bring lasting peace to the people of Dagbon.
There was a time table for the roadmap, but sadly the Asantehene and his Council of Eminent Chiefs dragged their feet, which led to the Abudus boycotting the process.
The Abudus also complained that the Asantehene was being bias in some instances and called on him to be fair to all parties.
Some of the Abudus complained that anytime they visited the Manhyia Palace, officials there did not show them respect.
It is noteworthy to mention here that during the war itself, three Abudus, namely Mahama Teenbila, Dramani Idi and Shahadu Sibdoo were shot dead while some Andanis, including the Ya Na, also fell.
In all, 29 souls were lost but many of them were identified as mercenaries who were brought by some unscrupulous persons to fight in the war.
Due to that, those who were identified as mercenaries were later buried at Mion, a town not far away from Yendi where the war took place. It is therefore sad to hear some people saying that the Ya Na and forty of his elders were killed in the war. Where were the forty bodies buried?
The roadmap was duly signed or thumb-printed by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Nayiri Mahami Abdulai Naa Bohugu, Yagbonwura, Bawah Dosie, Tsung Lana Mahama (for the Andani gate), Kpan Naa Bawah Mahamadu (for Andani gate), Mion Lana A. A.Ziblim (for Abudu gate), Kworli Gbanlana Mahama (for Abudu gate), Nyoligu Lana Mahami Adam (for the Kuga Naa), the then Member of Parliament of Salaga, Alhaji Abu Bakar Saddiqque.
Among other things, the roadmap stated unequivocally that they supported the decision of the Supreme Court of 1986 to the effect that the late Ya Na Mahamadu should be regarded as a former Ya Na and that his sons should be regarded as sons of a Ya Na and that they qualified to contest for the Gate Skin of Mion, Karaga and Savelugu.
The Council of Eminent Chiefs and the signatories also supported the Supreme Court’s ruling that only occupants of the skins of Mion, Karaga and Savelugu could aspire to and occupy the Ya Na skin.
According to the roadmap, the installation of the regent of Ya Na Yakubu Andani takes precedence over the installation of Ya Na Mahamadu Abdullai’s regent since Ya Na Yakubu died in office and Dagbon custom did not contemplate a situation where there would be two sitting Ya Nas or regents at the same time.
The road map therefore recommended that a council of elders comprising three representatives, each from the Andani and Abudu families, should be constituted immediately to act in concert with the Kuga Na and the regent of Na Yakubu Andani to handle all traditional arrangements from the date of burial of Na Yakubu Andani, performance of funeral rites of both late Ya Nas to the installation of a new Ya Na.
The roadmap went further to state that the burial of Na Yakubu should take place on 10th April 2006 with consultation and active participation of the Council of Elders, and a regent appointed thereafter in accordance with Dagbon custom and tradition. The Kuga Na is also enjoined in the roadmap to act as father of all.
It was also stated clearly in the roadmap that after the burial of Ya Na Andani, both sides would again meet the Committee of Eminent Kings to work out a programme for the funeral rites of Na Mahamadu and Na Andani. It said since Naa Mahamadu died before Naa Andani, his funeral should be performed first.
The Eminent Kings, according to the roadmap, would continue to engage with the parties on the way forward until a new Ya Na was enskinned. All the parties pledged to abide by the roadmap to peace and also encourage their supporters to continue to keep the peace.
From the foregoing, one is at a loss as to why this simple roadmap could not be implemented for so long now.
The questions on the lips of well meaning Ghanaians are: Who is stalling the journey to peace in Dagbon? Why has the road map been abandoned and who is to blame?
If the late Ya Na Yakubu Andani had allowed the family of the late Ya Na Abdulai Mahamadu to organise his funeral as tradition demanded, there would not have been any trouble as we are witnessing today.
If the funeral had been organised, the Bolan Lana would have been the regent and qualified to be enskinned as Kariga Na, Mion Na or Yoo Na.
That means, he would have been qualified to contest the Ya Na kingship. If the current roadmap is implemented, the Bolan Lana will eventually be the regent of the Abudus and the rotational method will be easy to follow.
What has compounded the Yendi Skin affairs problem is the action taken by the Mills administration. From all indications, Professor Mills and the NDC for that matter have taken sides and this is going to make things very difficult for the Asantehene and his Council of Eminent Chiefs.
There will be no trust since the Abudus will be suspicious of any action that the chiefs will take in their attempt to bring peace to the area.
Ya Na Yakubu Andani is not the first Ya Na to die in a state of war like the one we witnessed in 2002, but in all cases, apart from this particular one, the families were able to install a new Ya Na without any problem.
When Vice President John Dramani Mahama went to beg the Asantehene to start the Dagbon peace talks again while the government tried to find the killers of the Ya Na, I nearly knocked my head against the wall.
What did the man mean? What about the killers of the three Abudus and some Andanis? Are they not human beings and don’t they have wives and children who are also aggrieved?
That the Abudus should go to the negotiation table while their people are being hunted down like rats, leaving the Andanis alone to enjoy peace?
I don’t think the Veep wants us to believe that there will be peace in Dagbon if some Abudus are jailed in connection with the death of the Ya Na.
Yes, indeed everybody wants justice, but in a situation like the one in Dagbon, we could have let sleeping dogs lie still as we moved forward since one cannot cry over spilt milk. If we follow the roadmap diligently, and enskin a new Ya Na eventually, we could continue in the search of the killers of the Ya Na and the others.
Instead of swooping on perceived killers of the Ya Na at dawn, hauling them before court in his attempt to seek justice and keep his campaign promise, Mills should have first pleaded with the Asantehene to continue with the roadmap.
As a law professor, Mills knows very well that criminal cases have no status bar. It could take years or decades but the fact still remains that some people murdered the Ya Na and justice is on the prowl for them.
The mere fact that Mills promised the Andanis that he would find the killers of the Ya Na to win their votes doesn’t mean he should have taken the knee-jerk reaction that he took. By now Andanis should realize that the man who is their number one enemy is president Mills.
He led them into the deep waters and left them to swim back ashore all by themselves. He promised to set up “a competent, independent presidential commission” to look into the Ya Na case but ended up using the ‘commando tactics’, which has since backfired. What he promised them was a hoax.
It was a naked lie brewed in the NDC pot to seek votes from the Andanis, but as the sages say, lies have shorter legs. In the case of Mills’ lies, they have no legs at all.
By Eric Bawah
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