Overlord of the Mamprusi Traditional Area, Nayiri Naa Bohugu Sheriga Abdulai Mahami and his elders have assured President John Agyekum Kufuor and the entire nation that they are committed to finding a lasting solution to the Bawku conflict, which has so far claimed about 17 lives.
He said his mind had not been at rest since the conflict started because as the overlord of the place, everyone within his domain is “my son or daughter” and without peace, there could never be development.
The Nayiri gave this assurance through a spokesperson, Nagborama E.D. Mahami yesterday, when he led a delegation of his elders to the Castle at the invitation of the President who is currently brokering a peace deal between the feuding factions in Bawku.
Yesterday's meeting, which was held behind closed doors, was the third in a series of meetings between the President and the various groups in the area. Two weeks ago, he met with the Kusasis, a faction in the conflict, and held a similar meeting with the Mamprusi opinion leaders on Wednesday.
The Nayiri, whose introductory remarks preceded the closed door session, was upbeat that peace would eventually return to Bawku for people of the area to go about their daily activities in a serene environment.
He was worried that the people of Bawku who had coexisted peacefully for centuries, were now fighting one another along ethnic lines.
He stressed the need for his people to see themselves first and foremost as Ghanaians without any ethnic considerations.
“I renew the appeal to my people to know that we are all brothers and sisters and so ethnic considerations should be secondary.”
President Kufuor, whose short speech preceded the Nayiri's, was full of praise for the latter, describing him as ranking “highly among the fathers of the land”.
The President was forthright with his reason for inviting the great king to his office: “I definitely need the counsel and co-operation of the Nayiri so as to bring peace and stability in and around Bawku.”
He also disclosed that apart from the Nayiri's importance in the resolution of the Bawku crisis, “government is relying on the statesmanship of this great king” in other very important national issues.
President Kufuor commended the king and his elders for heeding his call and travelling the long distance from the northern part of the country to meet with him in the south.
It would be recalled that violence broke out between some Kusasis and Mamprusis in Bawku on the eve of this year, leading to the loss of lives and destruction of property running into several thousands of Ghana cedis.
A state of emergency was declared with the imposition of a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the area, paving the way for the security agencies to monitor the situation.
Though relative calm was initially restored, the violent situation resurfaced as some of the combatants adopted guerrilla warfare tactics by hiding as snipers and killing others in the night.
The situation was so bad that Members of Parliament from the area expressed serious concern about the carnage going on and called for urgent attention from central government to restore peace.
When government was about to review the curfew downward, tension escalated once again early this month with two young men being murdered by unidentified men. Consequently, government increased the curfew period to 16 hours daily (from 3.00 pm to 7.00 am).
The reviewed curfew hours currently stand at 10 hours, from 8.00pm to 6.00am.
By Sylvanus Nana Kumi