04.07.2003 Feature Article

Letter from the president (VIII)

Letter from the president (VIII)
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3rd July, 2003 Fellow countrymen and women, rich and poor, young and old, bootlicking loyalists and loud-mouthed opponents, at long last I have visited Dagbon. Yes, they booed and jeered at me in Tamale and so what? I went there and I am glad I have shamed all those who thought I will never gather the courage to visit Dagbon.

Shame on Ahadzo, the whip who tried so unsuccessfully to lash at me for failing to visit Dagbon when he wanted me to. In fact, going to Dagbon was not on my itinerary when I set out to attend funeral of the Mamprugu Naa. You know that Naa Gamni Mahama Abdulai was one of the three eminent chiefs I selected to help clean up the minds of the Dagbon people and pump into their heads the fact that the killings will not take them anywhere.

Alas, Naa Abdulai got tired of the task, realizing that the Dagbon people were in no mood to talk peace. They were rather interested in trading accusations and counter-accusations. Naa Abdulai’s old, but strong mind and body, could not stand anymore of the Dagbon nonsense so he decided to die, go his ‘somewhere’ and leave the people of Dagbon to their own fate. But Naa Abdulai didn’t die in vain. Naa called me up about a week before he passed away and told me about his intention to kick the bucket. I begged him not to, but old people like him can be very obstinate sometimes and when they make up their minds there is no point trying to convince them otherwise. So I gave him a message to send to the Ya Na on the other side. Here is a copy of that message:

Dear Ya Na, “Am so sorry about what happened to you in March 2001. That day was a bad day not only for you and the people of Dagbon but for me and the whole nation. Sorry about Lizoh’s not too traditional means of breaking the news – the journalist in her got a better part of her mind and she wanted to be the first to break the news. When the first radio announcement was made about your death there was a spontaneous shout ‘oooooooooooooooooh’ throughout the national capital. That was a testimony to the fact that you were loved by many non-Dagbon citizens of Ghana and that the news of your death shocked many. With one voice, Ghanaians condemned that single act of stone-age brutality and savagery, which cut short your illustrious life. I know you must be thinking that I hated you; perhaps you are even mad at me for not doing enough to protect you. Surely, I regret my inaction after I heard the first news reports about the serious altercations, which were taking place outside the Gbewaa Palace.

Forgive me for thinking at the time that the radio station, JOY FM, which first broke the news about the fighting in Yendi, was just out to create mischief. If you ever had an opportunity to be the President of Ghana, you would have realized that sometimes you don’t have to take these radio stations seriously. The fact that I didn’t act on those reports does not mean that I helped anyone to hatch a plot to kill you. Never! I know you were a great fan of Jerry Boom’s but I am not the type of guy to order the murder of people who don’t support me. On the day of your death, everything seemed to have been set to work against me and reinforce the fact that my government had a hand in that mutiny at Gbewaa. The act was well planned – with GT phone lines cut and soldiers standing by doing nothing – but believe me I had no hand in it. Well, what has happened has happened and we have to look into your future.

Your people, however, seem so steeped in their ways and do not seem to be in a mood for peace. I guess you didn’t do much to unite them when you were around. On that score, I think you failed woefully and I think your association with Jerry Boom didn’t help matters much. Well, as I said earlier, we have to look into the future. We have started prosecuting two gentlemen who were allegedly seen holding your severed head. They claim innocence but we are using the facts gathered by ACP Apeatu, the police CID commander who conducted the investigations into your murder to prosecute them. While in court, we seem to be doing so well, am afraid there isn’t much good news from the battle for peace. Yes, the quest for peace has been turned into a battle between the Andani and Abudu gates. None of them is prepared to make any concessions and it gets even more difficult with each passing day. I feel like giving up sometimes, you know. Dagbon became my biggest security nightmare and am afraid I might never overcome it. If ever we achieve peace, I hope and pray for that, I think Dagbon will haunt me and any other person who succeeds me as the occupant of the Black Star stool.

Let’s assume that everybody agrees to a peaceful resolution of the age-old dispute between the Andani and Abudu royal families. How do we resolve the issue of who should be the next Ya Na? Should he an Andani or an Abudu? That is a question I don’t know the answer to but I know that the answer lies in the present crop of Andani and Abudu elders. I think you might be of some help. Do you still have any influence on the people of Dagbon? If you do, please call them up and tell them that I am getting sick and tired of their intransigence. If they remain in their entrenched positions, I will be tempted to seize the Dagbon skin and collapse the kingdom altogether. Na Abdulai, who brought you this letter, tried so hard along with two other eminent chiefs in the country to help restore peace and sanity to Dagbon. He got tired trying so hard that he decided board the next available flight to the other side. Now that he is with you, I hope the two of you will sit down with the other ancestors and take a firm decision on how you can help us to resolve the Dagbon conflict and all the other chieftaincy disputes in the country.

Once again, I am very sorry if my actions and inactions gave you the impression that I didn’t like you much and wanted you dead. You were a pretty nice guy and your moderating influence in the north helped to reduce the volatility of the region. Even in death, I think you wield some influence and I hope that you and the others in the ancestral world will come and help us. Please, know that any attempt to avenge your death will not help the situation. More importantly, I will like you to know that I will like to be the one to resolve the problem in Dagbon and I should be a key player in your peace plan for Dagbon. My eviction from the Castle should not be part of the peace plan. Thank you and may your kind soul rest in perfect peace.

The Excellent One, J. A. Fukuor

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