As the day appointed for the burial of the dismembered mortal remains of the murdered overlord of Dagbon, Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, 11th April 2005, draws near the people of Dagbon are faced with the real crisis engendered by the killing of the Ya-Na in their quest for a successor for the murdered king.
Ordinarily, the question of who becomes the overlord of Dagbon on the demise of a ruling overlord should not have posed any problem at all as it had long been settled that succession to the skin of Dagbon should be rotational between the Abudu royal family and the Andani royal family. Thus, after the death of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, who was from the Andani royal family, the next overlord of Dagbon ought to come from the Abudu royal family. Ordinarily, that is. But these are not ordinary days in Dagbon.
Information leaking from the Committee of Eminent Chiefs, led by the Asantehene, Nana Otumfo Osei Tutu, has it that both the Abudus and the Andanis are claiming the right to enskin the next Ya-Na.
The Abudus claim is said to be based on the rotational succession, upon which basis they are said to be arguing that once the Ya-Na, who was an Andani, is dead, never mind the circumstances under which he died, it is now the turn of the Abudus to, as it were, ascend the throne.
The Andanis, on the other hand, perhaps not unexpected, are said to be claiming the right to enskin a successor Ya-Na on the basis that Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II did not die a natural death since he was killed. From the day the Ya-Na was killed the Andanis have maintained that the killing was sponsored by the Abudus. The Andanis believe that if the skin is passed on to an Abudu it would then set a dangerous precedent, as it would mean that a Ya-Na could be killed by a rival royal family, as a way of removing him, to pave the way for their family member to become a Ya-Na.
The entrenched positions that the two royal houses of Dagbon is threatening to undo all the work done towards bringing peace to Dagbon.
It is our firm belief that all these would have been avoided had the government had the guts to confront the killing of the Ya-Na as the criminal act that it is, and acted to bring the perpetrators to book.
Bringing the perpetrators to book would have, in all probability, exposed their sponsors, and the matter would have been dealt with as a criminal matter and not as a chieftaincy matter. It would have exposed those Abudus, if indeed they are Abudus, who might have been involved, as having acted in their individual capacities and for their personal interests and not for or on behalf of the Abudu family or clan.
And once it is dealt with as a criminal matter, with the perpetrators and their sponsors brought to book, all of us can insist that the Andanis respect the rotational succession plan.
Alas, the government ignored all calls to treat the killing of the Ya-Na as a criminal matter. The government insists that it is a chieftaincy matter, thus entrenching the suspicion that the Abudus killed the Ya-Na.
So, since the government maintains that this is a chieftaincy matter, can anyone really begrudge the Andanis their position? Especially as they believe that the Abudus killed the Ya-Na?
If even the Andanis allowed an Abudu to be made the next Ya-Na, what is the guarantee that they would also not kill that Abudu, in view of their firm belief that the Abudus killed their kinsman, a suspicion that appears to have been confirmed by the position adopted by government, to pave the way for the installation of their kinsman? Are we ready for the vicious cycle that is likely to follow? What would be the life expectancy of a Ya-Na?
Notwithstanding all these things, Dagbon must have a substantive overlord who must enjoy the support of all Dagbon citizens, be they Andanis or Abudus.
It is in this light that we believe that it is not too late for the government to act to bring the perpetrators to book, as this would be the only way to absolve the Abudus, as a family or clan, of all suspicions held by their Andani brothers and sisters, and bring the two families together once again.