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The Dagbon Crisis in Perspective

2006-04-12 12:12:41
This article has been read 874 times.

The news that the two factions in the Dagbon crisis have finally decided to smoke the peace pipe is very refreshing. At least this eminent chief of Dagbon could be laid to rest with his ancestors.

But let us not be complacent, the current break through is just a drop in the ocean. Though the burial of the Yaa Naa could be seen as the first step towards that undulating journey, the end is still far. This is because peace in Dagbon can never be achieved and sustained unless it is linked up to total peace in the Northern Region. We must understand that the Dagbon crisis and as a matter of fact the crisis in the entire Northern Region has been around for ages. Our leaders have behaved like the Ostrich in the dessert that runs to bury it head in the sand anytime there is danger and thus assume all is well. The resolution of the crisis therefore must go beyond the present. By our culture we know that burying a dead man is as important as resolving the issues after the burial.

In Brief

The Northern Region has been one of the most unstable areas in the Country. The area has within its pages, chapters of pain and sadness visited upon its people through these unbridled conflicts. Historical sources recall that there has been a recrudescence of inter-ethnic and intra- ethnic conflicts dating back to colonial period or even earlier. This is why the present volatile situation in Dagbon cannot be looked at in isolation. To avert the effusions of emotions which very often culminate into violence, efforts should be made to find the remote causes of the mistrust between the various groups in the Region.

The causes of these conflicts are varied. However, both oral and written accounts record that the focal point of the numerous conflicts in the Region are disputes over land Rights, demand for chieftaincy, Abuse of ethnicity and Religious sentiment. The situation has wrecked havoc on the development potential of the area.

The role of Governments; Past and current

One area that has not been well emphasised is the fact that the endemic problem in the North has been exacerbated by the actions or inactions of successive governments from colonial times to the present NPP administration. That is why I find the attempt by some individuals and political parties to make political capital out of the situation rather unpalatable and hypocritical. Using the emotions of the people of the area to gain political advantage of any form by anybody should be seen as opportunistic. That said, one cannot comprehend why the perpetrators of this heinous act have still not been apprehended. Those who committed this crime are beast in human skin and should not be allowed to live among humans. They are a disease which if not well treated could infest vulnerable minds in the area. That these people are still at large is a serious indictment on the entire government machinery and especially the security apparatus. It is an indication that either the security agencies are in incompetent and inefficient or that they have been corrupted by the powers that are pulling the strings. As long as these beasts are on the run, the talk about peace in the area is a mockery.

It is said that every conflict is born out of an unaddressed grievance which grows and is fed by various streams of unmet aspirations and demands which are determined by a party or group as being in their interest. Almost all succeeding governments have remained impervious to the genuine concerns of some groups in the Region. The truth is that the solution to the conflicts could be found in the recommendations of the several commissions of inquiry that have been established anytime the conflict has erupted. Governments however, have very often shelved these reports and recommendations in the name of political correctness.

The report of the Lamptey Commission set up in the 1980 by the then government never saw daylight till the government was overthrown in 1981.

The PNDC government set up the Justice Ampiah Commission to investigate the conflict over the ownership of Kpandai lands and to offer recommendations. Though the commission came out with its report which was serialized in an Accra weekly, there was official silence on the report.

The chief of Bimbilla in 1994 was reported to have told newsmen after the destruction of the Bimbilla police station in 1994 that the attack though unfortunate was not surprising because he had informed the then Regional Minister about the clandestine activities of the alleged leader of the mob but the warning was ignored.

Immediately preceding the 1994/95 conflict, two government vehicles with Registration numbers – GVD 3138 and GVC 7073 were allegedly intercepted by police for conveying arms and ammunitions to one of the parties in the conflict. The then government never came out with the truth or otherwise of this incident. Truth, they say is the greatest casualty in any conflict situation.


It is unfortunate that Ghana, a country which is well known and respected in the international arena for her contribution to lasting peace in most trouble spots of the world has not been able clean her own house.

The government will have to set up a broad base commission to get into the roots of these conflicts. I know this is easier said than done, but then that is why they were voted to power, authority goes with difficult decisions. This commission should include people of all works of life- political parties, the clergy, chiefs and social groups in the area should be represented on the commission.

Let me also advise that setting up a commission is not as difficult as implementing the recommendations of the body. The government should be prepared to implement decisions even if it meant losing political gains or seats in an area.

by: Kwasi Obiri Quansah

source: ghanaweb

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