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NEW YA NAA SEALS DAGBON PEACE

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The protracted chieftaincy dispute between the Dagbon kingdom’s two royal gates, the Abudus and the Andanis, was finally brought to an end with the selection of Yo Naa Abubakari Mahama as the new Ya Naa on Friday. The dispute had left the Dagbon skin vacant for 17 years.

The protracted chieftaincy dispute between the Dagbon kingdom’s two royal gates, the Abudus and the Andanis, was finally brought to an end with the selection of Yo Naa Abubakari Mahama as the new Ya Naa on Friday. The dispute had left the Dagbon skin vacant for 17 years.

Yo Naa Abubakari Mahama, paramount chief of Savelugu and the head of the Andani royal family in Dagbon, was nominated by the custodians of Dagbon tradition to take the skin. The custodians were led by the Gushei Naa and Kuga Naa. His selection followed the successful completion of final funeral rites for the late Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II, murdered in March 2002.

Announcing the nomination of Yo Naa Abubakari Mahama to the media, the Kuga Naa confirmed: “We have just finished the funeral rites of the Ya Naa Yakubu Andani and according to our custom, when we finish the funeral of the Ya Naa, it is that same night that we enskin a new Ya Naa to take over. And by God’s grace, we have selected the Savelugu Naa as the new Ya Naa.”

The Kuga Naa congratulated the chiefs and people of Dagbon, the Ghanaian government and everyone else who took part in concluding funeral rites for the late Ya Naa.

Roadmap

The Dagbon chieftaincy dispute spans centuries, and has led to loss of many lives and the destruction of much properties since the death of Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II.

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor set up the Committee of Eminent Chiefs, under the leadership of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, to employ customary mechanisms to resolve the problem.

Members of the Asantehene-led mediation committee included the overlord of Mamprugu ‒ the Nayiri, Naa Bohugu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga ‒ and the overlord of the Gonja kingdom ‒ the Yagbonwura, Tuntumba Boresa Sulemana Jakpa.

In November last year the committee finalised its roadmap for restoration of peace in Dagbon, after a long series of engagements with stakeholders.

The committee also eventually succeeded in persuading the Abudu and Andani royal families to commit to the roadmap.

At a ceremony in November at Jubilee House in Accra, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II said the committee’s duty was to revive the customs and traditions of the Dagbon Traditional Area and restore peace there.

This, he said, included giving credence to the Supreme Court ruling that the late Ya Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV (1949-88), the last Dagbon leader from the Abudu gate, died as a legitimate paramount ruler of Dagbon, for which reason his funeral should be performed as such.

He also recounted challenges that the committee had encountered during the mediation process, which began as far back as the era of former President John Agyekum Kufuor.

Akufo-Addo’s joy

In a statement, President Akufo-Addo described the nomination of the new Ya Naa as a “happy day” for Ghanaians and congratulated the people of Dagbon for working to bring to an end decades of division in the chieftaincy area, which extends across more than 8,000 square miles of the Northern Region.

He also congratulated both gates for ensuring that the funerals of Ya Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV and Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II were held peacefully.

“The people of Dagbon, especially the Andani and Abudu royal families, are to be congratulated for this achievement, and for ensuring that the funerals of Ya Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV and Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II were held and concluded peacefully, bringing us to this very happy day,” President Akufo-Addo said.

He also commended the Asantehene-led committee of eminent chiefs for working hard to make sure that funerals were held for both late Ya Naas.

President Akufo-Addo, who has always described himself as an “Abudani”, expressed confidence in the new Ya Naa’s ability to ensure unity, lasting peace and stability among the people of Dagbon.

He further assured the people of Dagbon of his government’s continuous support to help restore the kingdom to its former glory.

Long-term dialogue

The eminent chiefs expressed their own gratitude to the Abudu and Andani royal families for their understanding and co-operation in ensuring safe funerals for both Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV and Naa Yakubu Andani II.

The committee also assured both families that upon completion of all due customs connected with the enskinment of the new Ya Naa, there will be continuous engagement to resolve all outstanding difficulties relating to the funerals of all princes and elders of Dagbon.

It will also ensure the enskinment of regents for both Naa Mahamadu Abdulai IV and Naa Yakubu Andani II as well as other rulers.