General News of Saturday, 17 November 2018
The committee of eminent chiefs mediating the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis on Friday 16 November made a symbolic and definitive declaration that could possibly bring to finality the nearly 40-year-old conflict between the Abudu and Andani royal families.
The conflict for years slowed and impoverished every facet of progress in the entire Northern region and rattled the nation’s treasury.
The committee, led by the Asantehene, Otumfou Osei Tutu II, tasked to develop a roadmap to peace in Dagbon after the brutal assassination of its overlord, the late Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II and many others and destruction of the Gbewaa Palace at Yendi following days of extensive deadly clashes in 2002, on 16 November finally announced dates for the performance of the contentious funerals of the former two overlords, whose deaths have caused and continued to renew divisions among the two royal families.
The committee through years of engagement drew a roadmap document for the restoration of peace in Dagbon but its implementation has suffered multiple resistances from both feuding factions.
The eminent Kings settled that a 14 day period, starting from December 14-28, 2018, has been allocated to the Abudus to gain access into the old Gbewaa Place to perform the funeral of the late Yaa-Naa, Mahamadu Abdulai IV.
The late Naa Mahamadu was removed as Yaa- Naa by the Acheampong military regime in 1979, just five years into his reign, after calling into question his legitimacy to occupy the throne. He later died outside the Gbewaa Palace in October 1988.
The Andani royal family does not regard him as a former overlord and since refused to allow the abudus access to the palace for his funeral to be done.
This opposition by the Andanis has been established as the main cause of the longstanding chieftaincy stalemate that triggered the unfortunate 2002 crisis, leaving the kingdom without a ruler for 16years now and denigrating the dignity and influence of her people.
Similar time period was allocated to Andanis to also perform the funeral of the late Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II from January 4 – 18, 2019. The two funerals are to be performed in the old Gbewaa Palace in Yendi. Rehabilitation of the Palace was to resume immediately and the committee is expected to meet President Akuffo-Addo at the State House on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, to present the final decision.
Representatives of the factions were led to the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi by the Northern Regional Minister and Member of Government’s Inter-Ministerial Committee, Salifu Saeed, who made no remark or contributions throughout the sitting. He was only present to witness the proceeding after his efforts successfully convinced the two parties back to the negotiation table.
The Andanis were led by the Chief of Kpatiga, Naa Ziblim Zakaria and Chief of Savelugu, Yoo – Naa Bukari Jia. Others include Chief of Ton in Karaga, Nyanpkala in Tolon, Abdulai Yakubu Andani, Chief of Lamashegu in Tamale, Abdulai Ziblim, the Sagnar- Naa, reps of the Gukpegu Regent, etc.
The Regent of Nanton, Mion and Kworli were among the chiefs who led the Abudu royal family.
However, Friday’s decision did not come easily as its announcement. There was still strong opposition against the ruling from chiefs who represented the Andani royal family, a source in the meeting told Starr News. The decision announced by the Otumfuo detailed how the funerals were to be conducted inside the Gbewa Palace which drew a new magnitude of lividness from the Andani chiefs.
Four chiefs from the Andani side tried to reject the decision of the committee when it was announced by the Asantehene in the presence of the two other members; the Yagbonwura Tuutumba Sulemana Boresa, overlord of Gonja Traditional Area and president of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs, and his counterpart, the overlord of Mamprugu Traditional Area, Naa Mahami Sheriga.
The chief of Ton raised the first objection and questioned why they, the Andanis, must allow for the funeral of Naa Mahamadu Abdulai to be performed in the Gbewaa Palace when died at his private residence and not as a Yaa – Naa. He wanted to continue the argument when the Asantehene promptly interrupted him and asked anybody harbouring difficulty with the decision to see him in chambers.
“The Asantehene told him that we’ve been talking for over 12years, it is time to make progress and that anybody who has issues with the decision should see him after the meeting. So after the meeting, the Kpatiga lana, Nyankpala, the Tonlana himself and one other chief of the Andanis followed the Asantehene into a separate meeting”, another source disclosed to Starr News.
“While you could see anger and defiance in their demeanour towards the decision,” the source said the Abudu chiefs, however, maintained an unusual composure that showed a feeling of acceptance and satisfaction throughout the meeting. The source refused to disclose the outcome of the separate meeting between the Asantehene and the Andani chiefs.
There was an outbreak of wild jubilation outside the Manhyia Palace by a huge crowd of Dagbon youth who had massed up awaiting the outcome of the meeting.
Andanis to hold extraordinary family meeting
With the opposition displayed by the Andani chiefs, it was clear the family is still harbouring some reservation about the decision by the eminent chiefs, though, the committee also said the Kampakuyaa, and for that matter the Andani Family, was not going to entirely evacuate from the Gbewaa Palace when the Abudus are to perform the funeral of Naa Mahamadu Abdulai.
Tents and canopies will be erected in parts of the Gbewaa Palace for the Abudus ceremony and some other places will not be made accessible to them.
Nonetheless, the family has revealed that it would hold an emergency meeting in the coming days to discuss the decision of the committee and organise a news conference to state its position. The Andanis believe the committee has exhibited inconsistency in its judgment on the matter.
Some of the Andani chiefs said the announcement was just a design by the government to divert attention from the current growing impasse between the Dagbon Traditional Council on one hand and government and the Mamprugu Traditional Council on the other, over the inclusion of Chereponi district to the yet to be created North East.