The Dagbon conflict is shaping up to be one of the hot-button issues in the December elections. As we move closer to December, people with vested interest in the outcome of the elections are undoubtedly going to use the unfortunate plight of Dagbon to energize their political base by discrediting government effort at finding a lasting solution to the intractable conflict.
Unfortunately, Dr Amin's recent articles on the crisis could be exploited by opportunist for political expedience. The Professor may have good intentions in devoting his scarce time on this all important subject, but his analysis, assessment, and commentary on the crisis so far, I am afraid, have unintentionally put the government in an unfairly defensive posture, depicting the government as either lacking interest in the conflict or incompetent in handling the crisis or both. The government may be slow in finding a lasting solution to the crisis, but being slow is a far cry from lack of action. One cannot completely ignore the efforts by government that has so far resulted in some major positive developments in the peace process. Dr Amin conspicuously failed to mention the numerous meetings that have taken place between traditional leaders and chiefs from the two gates under the auspices of a government constituted committee of paramount chiefs, namely the Ashantihene, the Naayiri, and the Yogbonwura. These meetings have, at the minimum, created the opportunity for the two sides to engage in dialogue. Contrary to what Dr Amin would want the world to believe, the government is not micromanaging the traditional dimension of the crisis. Prominent chiefs from Dagbon, including the Kuganaa, are deeply engaged in the traditional process. This process includes, but not limited to, the burial of the late King, the performance of funeral rites, and the installation of regent. The complex and difficult nature of these issues informed the slow pace of the negotiating process.
Reasonable people can disagree on the government's handling of the criminal aspect of the crisis. Dr. Amin raised very important issues relating to the role of government and its responsibility in dispensing justice under the rule of law. But here too, the good Dr. failed to mention the stonewalling and non-cooperation by the Andani faction at the Wuaku Commission. He also conveniently chooses not to mention the trial and acquittal of two accused persons suspected of murdering the late King by an Accra High Court. I'm sure Dr. Amin is also fully aware of the fact that prominent individuals on the list of suspects presented to the whole nation by spokespersons of the Andani gate are presently in court facing their accusers under the judicial system of the land. One can only surmise that the good Dr. is not interested in discussing the shocking and revealing testimonies coming out of the proceedings in that court room. All the key players from both factions are involved in the court case. I hope the doctor will agree with me that justice is not the exclusive preserve of one group of individuals. It is a universal concept that applies to all people, including even the accused. Under the rule of law that Dr. Amin so eloquently referred to, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is a key cornerstone of the justice system. Liberal democracies such as ours do not dispense justice by perpetuating injustice. The administration of justice is only deem to be fair if it is subjected to due process under the law. Any discussion or analysis of the criminal aspect of the crisis that deliberately discount the Wuaku Commission report, the trial of two accused persons, and the ongoing court proceedings involving major players in the conflict raises questions of motive and objectivity. I respect the doctor's proclamation of neutrality in the conflict, but his account and analysis of events, I am afraid, are skewed and do not reflect the whole story. I can only say here that if I were married to the beautiful daughter of a power broker and financier of one of the feuding gates I will be reluctant to proclaim neutrality. In the case of Dr Amin, his in-law is not just another financier, but a Godfather of the heir apparent to the Dagbon throne from the Andani gate.
What is more, this in-law also happened to be the host of the late King and his several wives in Tamale on the eve of his tragic death. So much for neutrality. May be my good friend would do well to give account of the activities of both gates in the days leading up to the unfortunate day in his next piece. This would put the conflict into proper context and perspective. As I inject myself into this discourse, I will not be so naïve to proclaim my neutrality. Yours truly is a proud sympathizer of the Abudu gate.
I write this rejoinder with the fervent conviction that Dr. Amin is a man of genuine good will and that his criticisms of the government handling of the crisis are sincerely set forth. I hope that a genuine intellectual discourse of the Dagbon crisis would allow our people to rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal of circumstances and events that culminated to the untimely death of the king and his elders. It is my hope that this exercise will help raise our people from the dark depths of prejudice and factionalism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. Too long has our beloved kingdom been bogged down in the tragic attempt to live in monologue rather than dialogue. It is high time we recognize that as Dagombas, we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of factional prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched villages and communities and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our wonderful Kingdom and great nation. Ziblim Iddi Department of Political Science Clark Atlanta University Atlanta, GA, USA. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.