How Dagbon Conflict was resolved...Unedited account by Hon. Salifu Saeed

Date: Friday March 22, 2019, 8:50 am

WatchGhana.Com had one-on-one encounter with the Peace Excellence Award Winner, Northern Regional Minister Salifu Saeed on some of the basic strategies or steps the ruling Government led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and other stakeholders took to bring the Dagbon Kingdom back to the path of absolute peace. Below is the unedited account given by the Regional Minister who was the lead campaigner for the Government mediation team that worked things out with the Otumfuo’s Committee of Eminent Chiefs for the implementation of the Dagbon peace roadmap: 

Unedited Accounts by Hon. Salifu Saeed

We cannot talk about the Dagbon peace resolution without celebrating Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Because when we came into power and he appointed me as the Regional Minister; during our inauguration he singled me out and held my hand and spoke to me for a very long time. He told me that Saeed I know you are a young man and I am sending you to a region that is very hot, very complex and having a lot of hotspots particularly in Dagbon. But I believe strongly that you have the energy, you have the expertise to represent me to work towards the final resolution of Dagbon chieftaincy crisis and others. 

So from day one, my mandate was very clear. And during my vetting the Minority Leader in Parliament Hon Haruna Iddrisu who is also a son of Dagbon and also one of the astute MPs we have in the north and Ghana, also asked me about what I am going to do to get a resolution to the Dagbon matter and when I explained, he could only wish me God’s luck. And when I started work, Dagbon matter was a priority and I had to rollout my strategy. But I realized that the roadmap to the peace in Dagbon during the era of the previous [NDC] government- the mediation process at a point hit a snag and was broken down completely. 
So we just started all over again because all the parties had decided not to even go to the Otumfuo’s palace again. It took me time to move round to talk to the two royal families [Abudus and Andanis] and that was after I had met Otumfuo to see what I could and have to do to get all of them to rebuild their confidence in the peace process and to get them to go back to the negotiation table. But I can tell you, in all of these conversations about the resolution of the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis, is as a result of the bold and decisive leadership of President Nana Akufo-Addo. He gave his fullest commitment and decided to put his government on the line for Dagbon peace, because he said that we must do everything in our power to see how government could partner strongly with the Eminent Chiefs’ committee and other key stakeholders in Dagbon who could assist us to mediate and reach the final peace deal which would lead to we [Dagbon] having a substantive Ya-Na and thank God it has happened at the point every got frightened and people were asking me and the President to leave this Dagbon matter because it will destroy your government. But he said look, Saeed we will go ahead because the battle is still the Lord’s. If God Himself is for peace and He created this world with peace, then let’s look up to God and focus, encourage the committee to do whatever they have to do. So, myself, the National Security and Chieftaincy Ministers we were very focused to do the work entrusted to us by the President, and we got the support of other security ministers like the Defence and Interior. And anytime we needed the support of the police and military day or night we called them and they responded quickly.
I can tell you I just have to keep on thanking the key players from both Abudu and Andani royal families because they all did a lot of [huge] sacrifices, and then also the then Regents of the two families, the Kampakuya-Naa now the Yoo-Naa and the Bolin-Lana now the Mion Lana. They really did a lot by cooperating with the government and the committee to be able to change or shake off a lot of the things that they thought were their birth rights but for the sake of peace of Dagbon they all h ad to let go, and finally we got to where we are now. So now that Nana Akufo-Addo is the Prince Abudani I, he is determined as a leader of the NPP government to do everything in his power to see how he will use his government to support the Ya-Na, the Mion-Lana and the Yoo-Naa and other paramount chiefs, divisional chiefs, key opinion leaders, youth groups and sons and daughters of Dagbon in particular to see how we can work in collaboration to deepen and sustain the peace so that investors, development partners and government would come in to develop Dagbon, because for all these years that this crisis has been lingering on, people did not want to risk their resources to invest in Dagbon. Even very prominent Dagombas who have worked in other parts of the world and at least they have gone on retirement and have some money reserves and other resources that they could come home and invest, most of them who didn’t want trouble or to be accused of this Abudu and Andani thing, they decided to stay away from home. But I am taking this opportunity to appeal to them that now the peace of Dagbon has arrived; it’s real and it has come to stay so they should all come home to put their resources together to create job opportunities for their own young brothers and sisters so that people will not take opportunity of their idleness to influence them to engage in violence again”. We as a government are not interested in taking credit or praising ourselves for achieving peace in Dagbon, because we see it as Ghana’s peace and not just Dagbon peace. But one thing I want the whole Ghana to know is that, in the Dagbon peace it is like running a baton exchange. In baton exchange race you can start very well but the ending is very critical and it’s what justifies the means. If you start very well and at the last part of exchanging the baton you are not able to exchange it well or you stop along the way, you will end up taking the last position. Or it is like running 12 rounds’ race, you can start even the 1st, 2nd 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th and leading all the people. If at a point your oxygen and energy run out and you stop on the way, you will end up placing last.
So, yes, some previous governments played various roles in this Dagbon peace and I tell you that mediation process started even not from former President John Agyekum Kufuor’s time. I can tell you if you look at the genesis and the history of this Abudu and Andani dispute even from Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s time up to date, various former presidents played different roles. But when we came to power under President Nana Akufo-Addo, it’s a fact, that the negotiations and everything had gone to its knees and there were accusations. And when His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II who is the Chairman of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs was rolling out the roadmap leading to the final resolution of the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis; performance of the funerals that would lead to the enskinment of the Ya-Na like we now have, at the Jubilee House, he indicated that at some point the two royal families were accusing him from left, right, centre and everything stalled. But when we came in, we started the thing, even I had to launch [Dagbon Peace Now] at the Jubilee Park in Tamale and I used a non-partisan approach, and in that meeting key stakeholders like the Regional Peace Council, DAMAS, Dagbon Forum. But do you know that on the day of the launch of the Dagbon Peace Now, people marched to me and asked me to cancel the event because they claimed it will lead to conflict because they did not want anybody to touch the Dagbon matter. But I invited all the former Regional Ministers including Ben Salifu who served under Kufuor, Prince Imoro Andani under Kufuor, Alhaji Muniru Lemuna of NDC, Alhaji Abuba of NDC who was my immediate predecessor and all of them were there, because I wanted us to use a non-partisan approach so that people will not see it as government’s business. I also stayed neutral and made sure we emboldened the positions of the Eminent Chiefs and gave them the necessary support so as to use the traditional and customary approach to resolve the Dagbon Chieftaincy dispute”. Dagbon now has peace and the peace of Dagbon I want to indicate is real. I want to reassure the generality of our people in the north, Ghana and outside that as a Senior Government Messenger in the region I have seen it all, and I want to say that where we have reached people should have faith and confidence in the peace that we have all collectively achieved in Dagbon.

Source: WatchGhana.Com

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