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Opinion | Jan 30, 2019

The President’s Ability To Do The Undoable

President Nana Akufo-Addo with the new Ya-Naa
President Nana Akufo-Addo with the new Ya-Naa

When Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani was gruesomely murdered during former President Kufuor's era, Mr. Kufuor spoke to the nation and warned people who wanted to use the murder of the great king to do politics to stop since it touched the nerves of the people of Dagbon. As a result, he immediately set up the Justice Wuaku Commission to look into the matter and establish the way forward to bring peace to the good people of Dagbon.

I had the opportunity to make myself available during the sittings of the committee in Sunyani. The tension was so high that one thought the heavens would fall one day and turn the hall into a battleground of doom. During the first day of sitting, weapons seized from supporters of both Abudus and Andanis could be used to wage a Third World War. Everybody was terrified and as a result security was beefed up.

After several days of sitting amid tension, the Wuaku Commission presented its report to President Kufuor who thereafter set up a Committee of Eminent Chiefs led by the Asantehene – Otumfuo Osei Tutu – to ensure the restoration of peace to the area in order to pave the way for a new Yaa Naa to be enskinned. The Otumfuo Committee started work immediately, and invited both sides of the royal gates to Manhyia to deliberate on the issue. The committee did not finish its work before the New Patriotic Party (NPP) lost power.

For the eight years that the Mills\Mahama administration ruled this country, they chose to close their eyes to this very important assignment and rendered the Otumfuo Committee 'useless'. Founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Mr. Rawlings told the world that he knew those who murdered the king but refused to name even a single person. In the run-up to the 2008 elections, T-shirts bearing the pictures of the slain Yaa Naa and Rawlings popped up and people condemned that infantile trick. The late Mills and the NDC promised the people of Dagbon that when they came to power, they would find the killers of Yaa Naa.

One day, we woke up to hear that about fifty-two (52) persons including an innocent Fulani man and a Dargati labourer had been rounded up at dawn in Yendi and driven to Bimbilla, where a screening exercise was conducted. Some of the arrested folks were left to go home and the rest, including a 75-year-old man, were taken to Accra to face trial. The NDC government brought witnesses from Yendi, lodged them in luxurious hotels and hired lawyers to coach them on how to present their cases in order to implicate those in cells. The matter went to court but at the end of the day all those who were arrested and charged for the murder of the late Yaa Naa were acquitted and discharged. Mr. Rawlings, who had earlier told Ghanaians that he knew those who killed the Yaa Naa, flew into tantrums and accused the prosecutors for not doing their homework well.

I travelled down memory lane so that the 20–year-old man or woman who was barely two years old when the whole episode took place would understand where we are coming from. If you want to understand today, you have to search for yesterday. That is why I always insist that historians look back in order to shape the future.

In 2012, when Candidate Akufo-Addo went to Yendi to campaign, he told the people that he was neither an Abudu nor an Andani – not to talk of being a Dagomba or a Northerner – for which reason he had no interest in the case, and all that he wanted was the restoration of peace to Yendi. He promised them that he would never take sides but would make sure the people of Dagbon live in peace. Unfortunately, the verdict of the people of Ghana was 'stolen' and Mr. Mahama, a Northerner, held the reins of power. For the four years that he was in power, he never allowed the Otumfuo Committee to work. He dilly-dallied until he was disgraced at the polls.

During the electioneering campaign in 2016, Candidate Akufo-Addo visited Yendi again and during the interactions he had with the chiefs and people of Dagbon, he repeated what he had said in 2012. He went further to promise that when he held the reins of power, he would make sure peace was restored to Dagbon so that the place could be developed rapidly. Yours sincerely doubted how Nana Addo could bring peace to Dagbon because the whole thing seemed undoable due to the naked politicization of the Dagbon issue by the NDC. Mr. Mahama and the NDC drew a wedge between the Abudus and Andanis to make it look as if the NPP does not support the Andanis and that if they followed the roadmap of the Otumfuo Committee, it would end at where an Abudu would be enskinned as the Yaa Naa.

When Nana Addo became the President of Ghana, he immediately reactivated the Otumfuo Committee and the roadmap was opened. The Abudus had the opportunity to organize a befitting funeral for the late Yaa Naa Abdulai Mahama at the Gbewaa Palace and left the place peacefully for the Andanis too to organize the funeral of the late Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani. Even though a few skirmishes took place, the security officers were up to the task and both funerals went on successfully. The 'hawks' who did not wish Dabgon well were put to shame. The battle is still the Lord's.

Before the elders of Dagbon could consult the oracle to choose a Yaa Naa for them, enemies of Dagbon made it look as if the devil would rain fire and brimstone on the Yendi town. Lo and behold, the oracle chose an Andani, a royal and the chief of Savelugu – Alhaji Abukari Mahama – to sit on the skin. The Abudus, led by the Bolan Lana, quickly congratulated the new Yaa Naa and pledged their support for the new Overlord of Dagbon. A sad chapter was closed and a new one is opened with the coronation of a new Yaa Naa; President Akufo-Addo has created another legacy. The history of Dagbon will not be complete without mentioning the role played by the Asantehene and his Committee of Eminent Chiefs and of course the President – Naa Abu-Dani Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The man has proved to Ghanaians that determination, combined with opportunity and intelligence can make things happen.

What many people do not know is that the descendants of the Ashantis are Mosis and the Mosis, Dagombas, Mamprusis and the Nanumbas have one grandfather. So it was a family affair. That is why the Akans say that if something falls into the hole where animals dwell, it is the same animals who will remove that thing (Se adie to mmoa bon mu a, mmoa no na eyi).

The Asantehene could not have failed his brethrens and kinsmen. When former President Kufuor chose the Asantehene to lead the Eminent Chiefs to solve the Dagbon issue, I knew the Asantehene would succeed. This is a man who is affectionately called King Solomon and he deserves that accolade. Since mounting the great Golden Stool, Otumfuo Osei Tutu has proved beyond reasonable doubts that God has bestowed on him the wisdom of King Solomon – the son of David.

And King Solomon Gets Back His Mines

I have never seen the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu so happy, excited and emotional before. On 22nd January, 2019, in Obuasi, I saw the other side of the great King of Asanteman. The President of Ghana had gone there to re-open the closed Anglogold Ashanti mines and Otumfuo was there to grace the occasion. The Ashanti people are well known for their love for gold so much so that they even have a 'golden stool' as the soul of the Kingdom.

The Sir Garnet Wesley War (Sagrenti War) was fiercely fought because the Ashanti people preferred to die rather than allow the Whiteman to exploit their precious gold. Queen Yaa Asantewaa of Ejuso had to defy all odds and don her war dress to take on the Whiteman, because she could not sit down for the Whiteman to take away the golden stool. Prempeh I and many of his subjects were taken to the Seychelles Island for resisting the Whiteman. Just look at how the Asantehene is literally “bathed” with gold anytime he sits in his palanquin and you will realize why the people of that Kingdom would sacrifice their lives to defend their gold.

When I heard that the President was going to re-open the Obuasi mines in fulfillment of his 2016 campaign promise, I thought I was dreaming. I thought that promise could happen when the four-year term given to him by the people of Ghana is about to end. Indeed, the man is in a hurry!

A moment of glory was beckoning and I realized Otumfuo could not wait to see that glorious moment, as he was sitting together with his chiefs at the function. Ashantis and their lust for gold! Thank you, Mr. President for keeping this promise which is so dear to Asanteman. Like Barbarossa, the fallen Obuasi town shall roar and rise again!!

By Eric Bawah

Eric Bawah
Eric Bawah, © 2019

This author has authored 73 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: EricBawah

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