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Opinions of Thursday, 30 August 2012

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Mahama Haunted by Deliberate Inaction on Dagbon

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

On his so-called Thank You tour in the Northern Regional Capital of Tamale, recently, Transitional-President John Dramani Mahama claimed neutrality in the protracted Yendi/Dagbon chieftaincy dispute which, in 2002, culminated in the barbaric decapitation of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II (See “Dagbon Is One; I Belong to No Side – Mahama” Ghanaweb.com/JoyOnline.com 8/28/12).

As was to be expected, the Andani Gate of the Dagbon royal family is having none of it, as it were. In a rapid response to the former arch-lieutenant of the late President John Evans Atta-Mills, an Andani family spokesman, Mr. Mahama Shaibu, tersely characterized the president’s assertion, rather sarcastically, as a comic relief, in implicit Shakespearean parlance (See “President Mahama’s Promise was Comic Relief – Andanis” Ghanaweb.com 8/28/12).

Contrary to the quite sensational caption of some news articles, Mr. Mahama did not promise any quick and radical resolution to the Dagbon impasse; for, he clearly does not appear to have any comprehensive blueprint for the same. For starters, the Mills-Mahama 2008 campaign promise to establish a presidential commission on the Ya-Na saga, as had been promptly and appropriately effected by the Kufuor administration, never materialized, either by a deliberate act of omission or commission. On the latter score, the self-styled “Son of the North” has some comprehensive explaining to do.

Indeed, in the wake of the election of the Mills-Mahama ticket in January 2009, the first stirrings in the Northern Region was marked by a stentorian agitation of some Gonja youths for a separate region, on the implicit and sub-textual grounds that the prolongation of the Dagbon crisis was fast regressing the general development of the northern-half of the country almost indefinitely. Remarkably, however, the Gonja Youth Association, or some such political grouping, was smart enough to use the geographical expansiveness of the region to shore up their agitation for administrative secession from the Dagomba-dominated Northern Region. The critical question of population size had not been raised, because it was highly unlikely to provide the kind of prime grist needed by the agitators. And as I vividly recall, a petition was dispatched to the then-Vice President John Dramani Mahama who promptly responded by saying that he would afford due consideration to the same.

I vividly remember the foregoing because I had, personally, written and published two articles on the Gonja secessionist question, particularly its parochially escapist dimension, which provoked the mordant ire of an American Midwest-resident Gonja graduate student to hurl both unspeakable and unprintable vitriol at yours truly. Indeed, so caustic and spiteful was his tirade that the critic even baselessly accused me of having impugned the moral and scholastic integrity of the internationally renowned Prof. Ali A. Mazrui. He would later write back to profusely apologize, both to me, personally, and to his internet audience at large.

I never responded in any form, whatsoever, to my assailant because I felt too emotionally, morally and intellectually violated to do the same. Silence, I decided, was the best response. But even more significantly, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I really wished that the critic had not written to apologize, because his apology both seemed to disarm me and make me feel pity for him in a generalized stereotypical sense, none of which served any morally edifying purpose. I hope the reader fully appreciates what I am talking about.

Anyway, when he observes that: “I say categorically that Dagbon is one. I do not know Andani Dagbon, or Abudu Dagbon. All Dagombas are one. I belong to no side,” President Mahama states a truism that is as clinically objective as it is unremittingly callous. And I am of the sincere opinion that once he reads this article, or have the same read or digested and summarized to him by an aide or relative, he would ruefully wish not to have made such a patently offensive statement at all. Needless to say, when Mr. Mahama asserts that “I belong to no side,” he is quite correct because he is of Gonja ethnic sub-nationality and not a Dagomba.

What is absolutely and inescapably untrue is his vehement claim to non-partisanship in the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute. To be certain, the very first overtures made by the Mills-Mahama regime towards purportedly resolving the infamous Yendi Affair, was to summarily round up some vulnerable members and sympathizers of the Abudu Gate of the Dagbon royal family and prosecute them as scapegoats in order to score some cheap political points towards Election 2012. Fortunately, thanks to the sterling lawyerly genius of Mr. Samuel Atta-Akyea, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Akyem-Abuakwa South, this tawdry National Democratic Congress (NDC) gimmickry backfired resoundingly. For instance, one of the alleged criminal suspects charged with having actively participated in the brutal regicide of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II was only four years old in 2002, when the tragic event, which also witnessed the brutal massacre of some forty royal retainers, occurred.

In sum, when he asserts his absolute neutrality in the Yendi Chieftaincy Affair, President Mahama does Ghanaians great ill and abject disservice. Then again, how can any levelheaded Ghanaian citizen adequately fault the man who, nearly a month on, at his new “Paradigm-Shift” of a post, still refuses to release a formal report detailing the circumstances surrounding the death of his own former boss and presidential predecessor?

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net. ###