ADDRESS OF HIS ROYAL MAJESTY NDAN YA-NA ABUKARI II, KING & OVERLORD OF DAGBƆŊ DURING NAA DAMABA (GRAND DAMBA DURBAR OF CHIEFS AND PEOPLE OF DAGBƆŊ) ON SATURDAY 16TH NOVEMBER 2019 AT THE FORECOURT OF THE GBEWAA PALACE IN YENDI
Your Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana
Your Excellency Madam Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados
Your Excellency Former President Jerry John Rawlings
Your Excellency former President John Agyekum Kufuor
Your Excellency former President John Dramani Mahama
Your Excellency Madam Stephanie S. Sullivan, US Ambassador to Ghana
Your Excellency Iain Walker, UK High Commissioner to Ghana
Nanima herein gathered
Hon Ministers of State
Hon Salifu Saeed, Regional Minister and other Hon Ministers of State
Hon Members of Parliament
Heads of Diplomatic Missions
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the chiefs and people of Dagbↄŋ, I wish to extend to you all a very warm welcome to this grand durbar of chiefs and people of Dagbↄŋ. To all present, “Yi maraaba.” Welcome to the Northern Region, Dagbↄŋ and Yendi, in particular, our traditional capital and Gateway to the Northern sector of Ghana.
Today marks my first Damba festival as the King and Overlord of the Dagbↄŋ kingdom, one of the oldest traditional states in West Africa. This festival is an annual event, which began centuries ago, under Naa Zangina, who served as the 17th King of Dagbↄŋ. It is one of the most celebrated festivals in Northern Ghana. The chiefs and people of Dagbↄŋ use this occasion to evaluate the activities of the past year and to strategize and plan for the coming year.
Your Excellency, I took over the leadership of Dagbↄŋ at a time when the challenges are vast, and at times appear to be insurmountable. However, I take solace in the fact that with a united Dagbↄŋ, and a supportive government, we will overcome those challenges and chart a new path of peace and development. We have just emerged from a crisis that began almost seven decades ago, thanks to your government’s unrelenting efforts in helping us to resolve our succession crisis. I want to express the gratitude of the Chiefs and people of Dagbↄŋ to Your Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for the great role played by you and your government to get us where we are today.
We also wish to thank previous administrations led by Their Excellencies President Rawlings, President Kufuor, President Atta-Mills, and President Mahama, for working tirelessly to move us forward on the path of peace that you have finally concretized to open the way for progress and development.
The Committee of Eminent Chiefs led by His Majesty the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, worked very hard to achieve agreement on a working roadmap that the government diligently pursued with us to our present destination. Our heartfelt gratitude here goes to their Majesties, members of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs for a job well done. I expect in the coming days to pay a courtesy call on His Excellency the President, with their Majesties, members of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs, to formally express our gratitude for your efforts.
I also want to express our gratitude to the Hon Salifu Saeed, Minister for Northern Region, Hon Samuel Kofi Ahiave Dzamesi, Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, and the Hon Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister for National Security for playing key roles in ending the crisis. We are still facing some critical challenges in the process, but hope that, with your continuing support, we shall overcome them soon.
Once all these outstanding difficulties are resolved, I will assemble my chiefs through the Dagbↄŋ Traditional Council, and call on illustrious and distinguished sons and daughters of Dagbↄŋ in the academic and professional classes to constitute a working group to roll out my plans for the area. This session will allow me to listen to their inputs for incorporation into the final Dagbↄŋ Development Plan that will serve as a blueprint for Dagbↄŋ and Northern Ghana.
Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, speaking at the inaugural Damba lecture in Tamale recently, His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and Sahel (UNOWAS), called on me to establish a Dagbↄŋ Peace Committee to assist in the consolidation of peace. I am happy to announce that, the nucleus of a Dagbↄŋ Peace Advisory Committee has already been set up since June 2019, to deal with the process of resolving the Nanton Chieftaincy matter which was created following my appointment of former Vo-Naa M. B. Bawa to Nanton as Nanton-Naa Mahamadu V. Since I resumed office, I have incorporated the concerns of both sides in administering the Kingdom. The one challenge so far is the Nanton chieftaincy matter on which the committee is working. I am happy that the Committee, after several months of deliberations submitted a decisive resolution to the Regional Security Council with copies to your office and the office of the National Security Minister for the necessary action. Mr. President, I now appeal to you to expedite action on the resolution to bring lasting peace to Dagbon.
The theme for this year’s Damba is “A New Dagbↄŋ: Peace and Unity for Development.” The theme is chosen because of the development agenda I, together with the chiefs and people, want to pursue. We are committing never to pursue parochial or fratricidal ambitions to the detriment of Dagbↄŋ. With this crisis resolved, we are looking forward with keen interest to consolidate the gains we have achieved as a people. We shall work for peace, unity, and development, to support any development projects and together, oppose any who will seek to draw back the clock of progress in Dagbↄŋ.
I am dedicating and committing myself to assist our brethren, the chiefs and people of the Nanung Kingdom in the resolution of the chieftaincy crisis that has bedeviled them too for more than a decade now. It is my utmost desire to help them restore peace and unity in the Nanung Kingdom.
Your Excellency, you have demonstrated your standing as a visionary leader in your articulation of the Ghana Beyond Aid vision. It is no surprise that this concept has flowed beyond the shores of our country to the rest of our continent. Africa Beyond Aid is indeed what we ought to strive for if we wish to bequeath a better future to our children and generations yet unborn. This visionary idea distinguishes you as a Developmental President.
We have followed with keen interest your regional tours across the country to have the first-hand experience of our development challenges. During these visits, you have cut sods to inaugurate various development projects in pursuit of your developmental agenda. We appreciate these efforts, notably the projects in our Region. I will particularly mention, the state-of-the-art sports stadium in Yendi, the multi-purpose sports center for the gallant men and women of the Ghana Armed Forces, the interchange in Tamale, among many others. These projects are employing many youths, with more yet to come, to reduce the rate of youth unemployment in the country.
Your Excellency under one of your government’s flagship programmes – the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) popularly christened $1 million per constituency, together with the Yendi Municipal Assembly and the management of the hospital, we are hoping to use some of the funds for the purchase of an oxygen plant and an expansion of the Nico facility in the Yendi hospital.
Your Excellency, one of the major challenges that have come to my attention is the nonavailability of potable water for most of the communities within the Yendi area. This situation is even worse when we enter the dry season, a period when most of the streams and rivers dry up. The people have to trek several kilometers to fetch water for basic household chores and other domestic activities. It is for this reason that we are thankful to your Government for initiating the Yendi Water Project. I wish to appeal to Your Excellency to facilitate the speedy execution of the project to ease the burden on the people.
Your Excellency, the chiefs and people of Dagbↄŋ and the entire Northern zone, are eagerly waiting for the completion of the Tamale Teaching Hospital – the only tertiary health facility within Northern Ghana. The upgrading and installation of the right equipment and the necessary staffing complement are what we are looking forward to achieving.
It is regrettable that for want of appropriate equipment in the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) and other hospitals in the region, emergency, and other critical cases have to be driven, even at odd hours, to Techiman or Sunyani, in different regions for scans before returning for treatment. We hope Your Excellency will intervene to have this sad situation addressed soon.
The chiefs and people are equally waiting for the upgrading of the Yendi Government Hospital to a more modern facility, to position it to deliver medical services to the surrounding districts on the eastern corridor stretch, since it already serves as a referral center for those areas. The Yendi Hospital is currently understaffed, making work very difficult for the few dedicated staff: the Medical Superintendent and his staff. It is our appeal that the Ministry of Health posts additional doctors and other medical staff to augment those of the hospital.
Your Excellency, another significant challenge is the deplorable state of the road network in this region. These include the Tamale-Karaga road, the Tamale-Salaga road, the Tamale-Saboba road, Yendi-Chereponi road, and the Yendi-Tatale road leading to Togo. The rest include Karaga-Tong-Sung road, Saboba-Wapuli road, and the major trunk road – the eastern corridor stretch, through Bimbila, to the south. The construction and completion of these critical trunk roads will accelerate socio-economic development, ease the pain of farmers, and shorten the traveling time of our people. Related to the road network is the desire of the people to have your government expedite action on the proposed railway project that will connect Tamale and Yendi to other major cities in the country.
I look forward with keen interest in partnering with the government and the international community to rebuild the kingdom and its neighbours.
Your Excellency, as a step towards ensuring efficient management of the areas, I want to appeal to you to take steps to divide the Yendi Constituency and other equally bigger areas for the purpose of proper administration.
Your Excellency, we strongly believe that with adequate investment in the Sheini Iron ore deposits, some of our challenges will be addressed so the people of Dagbↄŋ and Ghana as a whole will receive the full benefits of the resources.
Your Excellency, I have allocated 500 acres of land for the establishment of a UDS satellite campus in Yendi. The campus is expected to assist in the development and rebuilding process of the kingdom. The teaming youth of the area will benefit from the establishment of a technical university situated within the eastern corridor stretch. This educational facility will offer professional and artisanal training for the youth of the area and other parts of the country.
Your Excellency, on behalf of the chiefs and people Dagbↄŋ, we thank you and your government for the successes that we have chalked so far.
On this note, Mr. President, I wish to thank you for inviting your guest, Her Excellency Madam Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, to join your delegation to this function. We hope that opportunities will arise for cooperation between her country and Dagbↄŋ so that we can benefit from their expertise and technology in cotton production and agriculture in general.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies, and Gentlemen, let me once again thank you all for coming to grace this historic occasion and to wish you all safe return to your respective places.
Long Live Dagbↄŋ
Long Live Ghana