Snippets of information reaching Savannahnews indicates that there is a looming tension in the entire Gonja Traditional Area and particularly between factions of the Buipe chieftaincy divide as the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama visits the area this week to perform a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road – a major campaign promise to all Gonjas during the 2008 elections.
According to the information from some deep throat sources in the Gonja Traditional Area (names withheld), majority of Gonjas are very displeased with the John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama led administration of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), because of ‘their decision to interfere’ with the latest Buipe chieftaincy dispute.
It would be recalled that in 2010, the Gonja Traditional Council at one of its major sittings unanimously agreed to dis-enskin the Buipewura Mahama Abdulai Jinapor following an alleged show of gross disrespect towards the Overlord of the Gonja Traditional Area, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Bore Essa Sulemana Jakpa I.
However, the embattled Buipewura, said the Yagbonwura and for that matter the Gonja Traditional Council of which he was a senior member, had no jurisdiction to dis-enskin him.
The Buipewura, who felt his fundamental human rights had been infringed upon, headed for court to have the decision of the Gonja Traditional Council overturned. Indeed, he did succeeded and last year, an Accra High Court ruled in his favour and the Gonja Traditional Council asked to reinstate him to his position as substantive chief for Buipe (Buipewura) with all other privileges. He was also awarded damages by the court to a tune of GH¢3,000.00.
Since the court ruling, there has been a serious stalemate between Gonjas and the ruling government to the extent that as one of our sources revealed, a message from the seat of government to the Gonja Overlord recently, inviting him to witness the upcoming groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road on Wednesday January 25, 2012, was not welcomed by the King who still appeared to be angry with the government for its perceived meddling in the Buipe chieftaincy wrangling.
Our source said: “The Vice President John Dramani Mahama recently sent a message to the Yagbonwura to come and grace the groundbreaking event for the construction of the Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road. But, when the message got to the King, he replied that he would not come and witness any ceremony. Because, he the (Yagbonwura) doesn’t understand why he will sack one of his sub-chiefs (Buipewura) for disrespectfulness and government decided to support him).”
However, Savannahnews has also learnt that some top government officials had been recently sent ahead of the planned event to plead with the Yagbonwura to accept the invitation to grace the occasion, since it was a major development project geared towards the good of all Gonjas and for that matter Northerners. From the grapevine, it appeared the Gonja King agreed to attend the groundbreaking event, but not until the D-day, this blogger cannot confirm this.
At the time of going to press, another source contacted by this reporter expressed fear of possible attacks and pandemonium in the Buipe area, should the Vice President John Mahama make a mistake and pay a courtesy call on Mahama Abdulai Jinapor or address him appropriately in the event ground (which he is likely to attend) as the Buipewura.
According to the source, all the residents of Buipe most especially family members of the lebupe gate (opposing faction in the chieftaincy dispute) want is that Vice President Mahama should just come straight to the event ground, perform the groundbreaking ceremony and leave them in peace. “Anything short of this, would lead to serious fight at the event ground or after the end of everything”, the source stressed.
Without any shroud of doubt or attempt to cause panic, Savannahnews can authoritatively state that all is not well in the Gonjaland most especially Buipe, as some of the information disclosed by our sources were unprintable and in fact, an indirect call for bloodshed.
Meanwhile, the 98mile Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road has been on the drawing board since the Rawlings regime, with promise upon promise in almost every annual government budget to construct it, but which never happened.
It is a major route linking the Northern Region from Wa in the Upper West and Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo Regions. For instance, according to Damongo based non-governmental organization – Centre for Women Opportunities, an estimated 2 million journeys are embarked upon by students who criss-cross that road between the Upper West Region and Northern Region per academic year (first, second and third terms).
According to the Executive Director of CWO Mr. Cletus Zumeh, who like the Coalition of Agro Processors and Petty Traders, has been involved in advocating for the construction of the road over the years, said an estimated 400 gari processors are in the Damong town alone. “People including students schooling in the Northern or Upper West Regions all stopped there to buy gari when going to school. But because of the bad nature of the road and upsurge of armed robbery at certain periods of the year, many of such students prefer to pass through the Upper East Region for safety of their lives."
He also disclosed that people from neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in recent past come to buy gari, shea butter and groundnuts with loads of trucks, but as a result of the poor nature of the road, many have refused to come and instead, chose to travel down south to to buy these products. “Annually, the all the various categories of traders and transport operators loose over GH¢50 million as a result of the road not tarred”, Mr. Zumeh emphasised.
Thus, Gonjas, who are the major inhabitants along that route (from Fufulso in the Central Gonja District through Damongo in the West Gonja District to the Sawla-Tuna-Kalba District) had lost hope completely despite a recent promised by the Vice President that if by 2012 the road is not tarred or asphalted, Gonjas should chase them (NDC or government officials) away when they come there to campaign for support and votes.
For now, Gonjas and for that matter the people of Northern and Upper West Regions can only hope and pray that the groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for January 25, 2012 would eventually come through in peace and the road duly constructed for them. They can’t entertain another campaign gimmick from another NDC government.