The Overlord of Dagbon, Yaa-Naa Abukari Mahama II, yesterday paid a courtesy call on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi to express appreciation to the King for the immense role he played in helping to resolve the protracted Dagbon Chieftaincy disagreements.
The Yaa-Naa was accompanied by a retinue of chiefs, including the Mion Lana, Abdulai Muhammadu, the Yo-Na, Yakubu Andani, and the Gulkpe Naa, Alhassan Mohammed. Also at Manhyia was the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Salifu Saeed, and some district chief executives from Dagbon.
The Yaa-Naa commended the Asantehene-led Committee of Eminent Chiefs, set up in 2002 to help bring finality to the decades-old conflict between the Abudu and Andani Royal families in Dagbon.
Other members of the committee were the Yagbonwura, Tuntumba Boresa Sulemana Jakpa I, Paramount Chief of the Gonja Traditional Area, and the Nayiri, Na Bohigu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga, the Paramount Chief of the Mamprugu Traditional Area.
The untiring efforts of the committee led to the performance of the final funeral rites of Yaa-Naa Muhammadu Abdulai and Yaa-Naa Yakubu Andani II last year, paving the way for the eventual enskinment of a Yaa-Naa in January 2019, after 16 years of disagreements.
Yaa-Naa Mahama was appreciative of the prevailing peace in Dagbon, but he expressed concern over a looming chieftaincy crisis at Nanton, where some people had threatened not to allow a newly enskinned chief he had selected for the area, to set foot there. The Yaa-Naa, therefore, entreated the Asantehene to intervene to resolve the matter to bring total and lasting peace to Dagbon.
Speaking through his spokesperson, Dr Yakubu Mahama, the Yaa-Naa said the stalemate in Nanton was marring the peace that had been restored in Dagbon. The Yaa-Naa enskinned former Vo-Naa, Mohammed Bawa, as the new Nantom Naa.
However, according to him, the Zosal Lana, Haruna Sulemana Tia, “upon receiving the news of the enskinment of the Nanton Naa on March 31, 2019, proceeded to Nanton and occupied the skin”, adding that his action was uncustomary and untraditional.
The Yaa-Naa said he subsequently set up a four-member committee of chiefs who had recommended that the Zosal Lana be removed from Nanton. He said the report of the committee had since been sent to the Northern Regional Minister and copied to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Asantehene.
“We, therefore, appeal to you and the President to correct this anomaly to bring lasting peace to Dagbon, in particular, and Ghana as a whole”.
In his response, the Asantehene welcomed the Yaa-Naa and his delegation to his palace and asked them to consider Manhyia as their home, as there was a long existing bond between Asante and Dagbon.
The Asantehene advised all chiefs in Dagbon to respect the authority of the Yaa-Naa as the supreme leader and the one with authority to enskin chiefs to vacant skins. “Let it be clear to all that the Yaa-Naa is the supreme leader of Dagbon and his pronouncement is binding on all Dagbon. If there is anything untoward, we have a way of resolving it,” he stated.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu also pleaded for calm and asked the Vo-Naa, who had been enskinned as the new Nanton Naa, to stay away from Nanton until the issue was resolved. He said the Manhyia Palace would send an invitation to the Zosal Lana to enquire from him what the issue was and find the means to resolve it amicably.
The Asantehene recalled that when the Committee of Eminent Chiefs sat on the Dagbon crisis, there was a lot of mistrust, but “we managed to weather the storm” and asked the people of Dagbon not to allow politics to divide them and to remain united as one people.
He expressed gratitude to the Yaa-Naa and his entourage for the visit and promised to reciprocate in the near future.