Development Fund: Way forward for Dagbon- Martin Kpebu
What is next after the installation of new Ya Na, who now presides over what remains of a devastating conflict, which has ravaged Dagbon beyond repairs?
“Maybe a fund should be set up.” That is the solution proffered by a private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu.
He adds that with this fund, “various individuals, private organisations, and so on and so forth can contribute.”
In his view “that will help bring about development in the area and for those who lost property.”
Mr. Kpebu recounts, “In early January when I went to Yendi, the poverty was just too much. The whole area did not just look right. As I mentioned, we lived there decades ago I was quite small…So you would have expected that after 19 years the place would have grown that much. But it is not what we are experiencing.”
While commending government attempts to bring development to the area, he added it that is not enough. “I am mindful that the President started a project for water, where Parliament is yet to approve. Well, we can do more.”
Peace but poverty
Prior to the murder, there had been a long-running dispute over the traditional chieftaincy in Yendi, a town some 50 miles north of Tamale, the regional capital.
But after years of conflict, Ya Na Abubakari Mahama II has been enskinned as the new Ya Na, signalling the end of the conflict but not poverty and squalor which the conflict produced.
James Agalga, MP for Builsa North and National Democratic Congress (NDC) spokesperson on Interior added on the same programme, “Yendi should be the focus of government. We will support the process; any endeavour along that line will be supported by all. It is our collective efforts that the Dagbo traditional area catches up with the rest of the country in terms of its development.”
These sentiments were earlier echoed by former President Jerry John Rawlings.
“The people of Dagbon have gone through a painful period. Too many years have been wasted in a state of suspended conflict due to the lack of justice. It is now time to dedicate yourself to peace and development mindful of the complicity of your history,” the former President said.
Many pundits have also argued that lasting peace and development is not possible in Dagbon until those who perished and were wronged in the protracted conflict receive justice.
But Mr Kpebu holds a different view, recounting failed attempts in the past at finding justice through the court.
“There have been two trials, and even apart from the trials, there has been the Wuaku Commission. That came out with findings.
“There was a government white paper, and then there were the trials. There were accused persons who were tried and acquitted. In talking about justice, yes justice [in the form of reconciliation], but perhaps not justice in the courtroom in terms of a formal trial until there is evidence,” he said.
Adding to the discussion, the founder and president of the Africa Institute of Extractive Industries (AIEI) Dr Toni Aubynn, also cautioned the people of Dagbon and politicians in their quest for development.
“I think the people of Dagbo themselves must appreciate the requirement of peace for development. And that really that is an important thing. And that all Ghanaians must support and sustain the Peace that is now there,“ Dr Aubynn said.
To politicians, he said, “politicians must be careful in stoking the fire directly or indirectly. I think that that is one of the banes of this country. Is very difficult to cure it because politics is what it is, is also about division.
“But there are certain areas that we must note that by emphasizing our division we fail to get the development that we want. Politicians must be circumspect in trying to stock the fire.”
“The people are still there, the ‘conflictpreneur’are still around and if they have any other opportunity supported by either government in power or party that is seeking to come to power they will want to aligned and stock the fire. Let’s try and avoid that,” he concluded.