Dagbon today: Matters arising out of implementation of roadmap to peace

Otumfuo Kingship Otumfuo is the chairman of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs handling the Dagbon issue

Tue, 25 Dec 2018 Source: Abubakari Is-haq Motariga

Most of the Dagbamba people have waited anxiously for a time when the hard decisions and the truth must come to the fore. It is not out of place to say about 80% have become completely tired of the Abudu-Andani crisis. I say crisis because we have been overwhelmed by the litany of problems facing us almost on daily basis, including mistrust, absence of a Yaa Naa, and a myriad of social problems, all because of the impasse.

At the crossroads, or let me call it complex challenging times, we have been presented with a Roadmap to Peace. I call the Roadmap to Peace a "Complex Solution".

The implementation of the Complex Solution begun on Friday 14th December 2018 with the installation of a new or another Regent. A section of Dagbamba, became so irritated with the media reportage with some headlines like "DAGBONG GETS NEW REGENT", "BOLINLANA IS NEW DAGBONG REGENT", "REGENT OF DAGBONG INSTALLED" etc.

There and then, I saw that matters that may arise new issues have began to stare us on our faces. As for the countless social media debates and harsh words, as well as the audio records and counters, little we say about them.

What we call "REGENT OF DAGB??" is nothing but an English phrase used to describe the REGENT OF A YAA NAA. If we have to restrict ourselves to the customs and traditions of my people, we would have a proper title for the REGENT OF A YAA NAA. Ideally, we don't even call the regent of any YAA NAA "Gba? lana".

That one too applies to an ordinary person's regent, that is first son of an ordinary deceased or in some cases a deceased sub-chief. So who is REGENT OF DAGB?? is neither here nor there. Sympathizers of both gates in the Dagb?? impasse may arrogate the same albeit nonexisting title of "REGENT OF DAGB??" to their Regent. What is important is that both regents are regents of late Yaa Naas. That is Yaa Naa Mahamadu Abdullai IV, about the 35th Yaa Naa of Dagb?? and Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani, about the 36th Yaa Naa of Dagb??.

In Dagb??, there is always installation of regent in our funerals especially if the deceased was a chief. In the case of a Yaa Naa, we would have titles like "KAMPAKUYA NAA" for Andani and BOLING-LANA for Abudu especially in our recent history tracing to, or beyond, the regentcy of late Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani and late Yaa Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV.

Ideally, we would normally have a regent of any Yaa Naa taking an acting position and assuming a sort of authority over the entire kingdom. It should be noted that such a regent can't have full authority or be called Yaa Naa; 'KING' or OVERLORD of the Dagbamba 'kingdom' or state. It is not also normal for a "regent of Dagb??"; either KAMPAKUYA NAA or BOLING-LANA to stay long on the skin as "regent of Dagb??". The fact that the Kampakuya Naa was on the skin as acting overlord of Dagb?? in itself has sown a lot of seeds of discord. To act for ten (10) or so years, sell lands and enskin chiefs including the current Yoo Naa (Chief of Savelugu), in a violation of the Roadmap to Peace 1, has made realities to elude him and his sympathizers. Our people say no one would taste honey and spit it. To be on the skin, even in acting position, for even a week and every one including trees in Dagb?? would bow in respect to his Royal appearance is most cherished in our customs and traditions. A lion, or should I say a semi-lion, who has conquered the wild would always want to feel like the king of the jungle.

Some have suggested that the new regent should be referred to as "THE ABUDU REGENT". And I ask a question; Was his Majesty, the late Yaa Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV a Yaa Naa for only Abudus? If he was Yaa Naa who ruled Dagb?? from 1969 to 1974, then every custom must apply to him too on his funeral.

One may not have to be completely uncharitable with the Otumfuo-led Committee since the circumstances leading to the death of his Majesty, late Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani and the numerous press conferences about 'murder' of the late king would have added some emotional debates and sympathy judgements by actors and players at the negotiation table. (Note: Remember the late king died in a three-day factional clash between the Abudus and the Andanis).

While commending the Committee of Eminent Kings so far, I must say they have some challenges. For instance, it was proper to have buried the late 'King', Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani (may his soul rest in peace) but not proper to have installed his regent, Kampakuya Naa at the time. My reason is that, since the funeral of Ya Na Mahamadu Abdulai IV is to precede that of Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani, the ideal thing should have been to install the Regent of Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV and perform his funeral immediately. Following this immediately would have been installation of regent and performance of the funeral rite of Naa Yakubu Andani. (Note: I am referring to the late Naa Yakubu Andani without the "II" added because I am told by some praise singers that we have "Yaa Naa Yakubu II" or "Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani referring to the same late 'king').

Another challenge is their inability to deal with parties who violate the terms of references in their own blueprints. If it was clear to the parties in the mediation that a Regent would have limited authority ie not sell lands, not enskin chiefs inter alia, the Committee needed to deal with parties who violate the terms; that is if they have the claws anyway. But it is a clear violation of the custom of my people to have a regent who is limited in power and authority. Pushing to enforce this has made some Dagbamba to think the Otumfuo Committee are behaving as though Dagb?? is an extension of their (Otumfuo) respective 'kingdoms'. To these people, Dagb?? is Dagb?? and it must be free to practice its customs and traditions.

In presenting the Roadmap to Peace to the President, His Majesty, Otumfuo Osei tutu II told the world that the Abudu Regents like Nanton, Tolon, Gushiegu, Mion, Korli, Yelzoli among others were waiting for their turn to perform their fathers funerals and get substantive chiefs enskinned. Doing so makes sense today. One of the arguments that posed a threat to the forward march of the peace process was from a section of the Andani gate. In a series of press conferences we have often been reminded that it is uncustomary for these towns to remain regents while the funerals of Yaa Naas are to be performed. If this is so, and the Kampakuyanaa couldn't enskin those substantive chiefs to those towns, then the Boling-Lana should be able to enskin substantive chiefs to those towns.

In the past, once a regent was installed the funeral rite was immediately performed and a new Yaa Naa was enskinned.

Now in our current unfortunate situation, we would have some little challenge for a while until a new Yaa Naa is enskinned. You may call it dual authority.

Dagb?? has not had funerals of two late Yaa Naas to be performed at the same time. Neither did we ever have a former Yaa Naa and a sitting Yaa Naa both alive. Perhaps the only time that should come to our memory was during the time of Naa Andani Sigli and Naa Dariziegu. But our wise elders and circumstances found a solution to that challenge. Can't that apply to ours today?

The history of what we are experiencing now traces to the era of Acheampong when a Yaa Naa was deskinned and another enskined. According to our custom, DESKINMENT or abdication is alien to our customs and traditions. You can refer to Appendix E of the 1930 Dagb?? Constitution for further enlightenment.

When Yaa Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV was deskinned it brought a huge problem to Dagb??. The Supreme Court Ruling of 1986 and the 1987 Reconciliation Committee Report which was signed by both parties including the late two overlords should have been enough to get us lasting peace. The ruling gave the title "former Yaa Naa" to late Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV. Among others, the Supreme Court sought to find lasting peace to Dagb?? in 1. according Yaa Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV an entitlement of a full befitting funeral rite of a Yaa Naa according to customs. 2. It also gave the children of Yaa Naa Mahamdu Abdulai IV the right of ascension to the gate skins of Mion, Karaga and Savelugu. By the way, Mion, Karaga and Savelugu are the only three skins or titles that a Naa of Dagb?? can use to contest the Yani skin ie the Yendi skin which is the primus inter pares in the hierarchy of our traditional chieftaincy structure.

Right from the beginning of the implementation of the Final Roadmap to Peace, some have been embittered and some hilarious. What is good is that the roadmap to peace is a common platform that brings both families together.

We are really in turbulent times of our history. Like PLO Lumumba once noted "I believe that we have reached a stage in life...where moving forward is perilous, moving backwards is cowardice and standing still is suicidal but we must persevere because winners do not quit and quitters never win." In summary, we have three decisions to choose from for Dagb?? today; move forward because we unite the Dagbamba people, stand still because some have gained as others have earlier gained or move backwards as the current situation doesn't in itself augur well for the peace we are yearning for. We must interrogate each of the decisions and choose one which will bring sustainability to our existence. We need peace, unity and progress; the sine qua non of all our struggles.

Moving backwards is basically inconsiderable; for we all can still count the costs of that situation to our dear lives. Let me give some few examples: 1. if we were already united, then the proposed EASTERN CORRIDOR REGION would have met least or no resistance. 2. Our opportunities in politics and business have either stagnated or dwindled. 3. We have mistrusted one another to the extent that our marriages have broken, our religious worships are in doubts, our social relations have suffered, and our moral fibre have almost been irreparably damaged. 4. As for the fact there is no Yaa Naa for 16 years now little we say about it. 5. For a long time now both the NDC and the NPP have avoided a Dagbana in some key positions including Northern Regional Minister or Deputy, Defence Minister, Interior Minister, Vice President or Presidential Candidate. These and many more made we the youth to mobilise like-minded colleauges along the path of resistance against the the factional fracas. We said DIWUMTI and yes we are really TIRED of the long impasse.

What about standing still from 14th December 2018 to date? Should we follow the roadmap to peace in toto? What about the concerns from the Kampakuya Naa to the president? What about the concerns from the BOLINLANA to the Otumfuo Committee recently? Must we the youth wait for those concerns to be addressed?

Today we have in-house rancour, vituperative invectives cast left, right and center. There is disequilibrium everywhere; within and without Andanyili and Abuduyili and our social media is awash with what somebody will call militancy, acrimony and verbal attacks and counters. What is even more sorry is the YOUTH taking center stage in the social media disgrace. There are issues of "to perform or not to perform" from both gates, leaving the roadmap to peace in pieces. A lot of people, particularly the youth have jumped the gun already and we are already discussing who becomes Yaa Naa after the funerals. Some have clung to the public campaign for Kampakuya Naa, some to Yoo Naa (Savelugu chief) and some to Bolinlana as if there is a voting day for every one in the Dagb?? kingdom to exercise their franchise in favour of either the three. Are we in a banana republic? Is our custom lost?Are we done with the funerals of the late two overlords? Certainly things have fallen apart! We must pick the fallen things and join them again to make a Dagbamba state work again. Let us use the ROADMAP TO PEACE however abnormal it may appear to our customs and traditions. We are not in normal times.

What is however pathetic is the fact that there appears to be intentions in the Roadmap to Peace, whether covert or overt, in favour of one of the contending candidates for the skin. This may sound as if the Otumfuo Committee is acting as an arbitrator rather than a mediator on the Dagb?? issue. Choosing a Yaa Naa is strictly and customarily reserved for the kingmakers of Dagb??. Anything outside this may breed some grounds for future chaos. But this one too can't be accepted hook line and sinker since Dagb?? is not in normal times.

We have been so challenged to the extent that we are even arguing on matters of who is who among the kingmakers. There is that line of argument that makes Kuganaa the head of the kingmakers and another the Gusheinaa howbeit the 1930 Dagb?? Constitution appears clear about this.

There are three arguments in favour of three candidates to the Yeni skin:

1. "Kampakuya Naa must continue from where his father was curtailed" argument.

2. "Turn of Abudus and Bolinlana Rotation System" argument and

3. "Yoo Naa peace broker or 'gooi zabili'" argument.

Which ever will win should be less important to the youth who are pushing for our peace and unity. One thing for sure is that a lot of people have taken to the physical real and thus have become impatient or intransigent when in fact that barrier is more spiritual than physical. Let us thus leave such matters to the lions, kingmakers and God to restore Dagb?? to a normalcy.

Columnist: Abubakari Is-haq Motariga
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