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26.04.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Reducing Tension in Dagbon

By Ghanaian Chronicle

A few weeks ago, Ghanaians became very expectant that there would be a breakthrough in the stalemate that has characterized the burial of the slain Dagbon Chief, Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, through the intervention of the three eminent chiefs tasked to see to the proper handling of the customary aspects of the matter, to restore peace.

Unfortunately, the process had to be postponed indefinitely, because further consultations had to be made, that bordered on succession to the skin. It was sad that even as the cost of the absence of peace in Dagbon, has had an enormous toll on people living there, peace seems to be far away.

A suggestion by the General Secretary of the National Reform Party (NRP), Mr. Kyeretwie Opoku, also a Legal Practitioner, is worth taking serious note of. He has advised government to take charge of the Dagbon problem through ensuring justice, and improving the socio-economic lives of the people of the area.

He emphasized, that for a Republican state like Ghana, what we should be aiming at is focusing more on the things that unite us as a country, and not on traditional or ethnic boundaries, that emphasize on little enclaves.

The disruption of the socio-economic life in Dagbon has become a burden on the whole of Ghana, and it is about time we looked at a national solution to this seeming intractable problem.

Considering that the Abudu-Andani royals may constitute just about a small percentage of Dagombas, it would be unacceptable for us as a nation to watch them drag not just Dagbon, but also the whole Northern Region and its environs, and for that matter the whole nation into a state of turmoil.

In the days when Dagbon was an independent state, there could perhaps not have been much problem resolving this thorny issue of succession.

After all, in those days, it was easy to resolve such stalemates through fighting! Today, we all agree we cannot allow that to happen.

The state has the responsibility to maintain law and order. So the state must continue to monitor and prevent the situation from degenerating further. The focus of government so far however, seems to have been on seeing to the re instating of the chieftaincy of Dagbon, rather than focusing on bringing criminal justice to the people.

The handling of the criminal justice aspect of this matter by government so far has not been very complimentary. The preferring of murder charges against persons found to be in possession of the late Chief's body parts, leading to their subsequent acquittal, did not demonstrate seriousness at bringing the perpetrators to book.

Even the implementation of recommendations of Government's own White Paper on the Wuaku Commission report, was not comprehensive enough.

The fact that both the Andanis and Abudus kicked against the Wuaku Commission report, raises a credibility problem, and it should be possible to establish a more credible body to re-open investigations.

Beyond ensuring that justice is done, the other most important thing is to restore and improve on the socio-economic lives of the people.

The saying that, 'the devil finds work for idle hands,' is so apt a description of what may be happening in Dagbon. The numerous unemployed youth are ready to be deployed to fight because they see in such ventures an avenue to prove their self-worth, since the lack of opportunities has put them in a state of hopelessness.

A sure way to disengage these youth from becoming easy prey for the warlords therefore is to embark on an accelerated action to improve on their productive capacities, and provide them with the necessary skills, resources and employment avenues to enhance their socio-economic status.

We support this call, as we believe it would go a long way to reducing tension in Dagbon, and bring life to normalcy.

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