The former Managing Director of the Observer Media Company has dispelled allegations from some quarters that State House dictated editorial content of the Daily Observer during his tenure.
Dida Halake, an Ethiopian by birth who grew up in Kenya and currently resident in the United Kingdom, said he had run the Observer with free hands. He said some State House officials tried to run the show at Observer but they failed. Mr. Halake said he had once asked President Yahya Jammeh about an editorial discretion but his answer was “you’re the Editor-in-Chief.”
“I’ve never had any problem running the Daily Observer as a pro-government newspaper since there are many other Gambian newspapers that were against the government of President Jammeh. At least there should be one paper that supports the government,” Mr. Halake told Kairo Radio.
Mr. Halake who never shies away from sparking off controversy believes “the only option for a peaceful change of government in the Gambia is total opposition unity.” In that, he adds, Lawyer Darboe should be selected as a presidential candidate, Hamat Bah vice-President, Halifa Sallah Minister of Finance or a similar role with other politicians filling positions and then fight the election.”
Dida Halake also contends that “Gambians, including himself, have under-estimated President Jammeh, thereby not appreciating Jammeh’s political skills and maneuverings.” Halake says President Jammeh may have a plan for a peaceful transfer of power to another person.
Dida Halake is known for discussing and writing on African and Gambian issues of interest on online newspapers. He is a seasoned African writer whose opinions can be critical, brutal and upfront, but Dida Halake is hard to ignore. He is simply the man many Gambian dissidents love to hate, for they cannot understand why he still owes allegiance to the Jammeh regime that elevated him to the sky only to persecute him.
Dida also blames Gambian dissidents as bunch of “unrealistic people who sometimes want a violent change in the Gambia.”
Mr. Halake does not only have cordial relations with President Jammeh but also an inside knowledge of the Gambia, the country of birth for his kids. He taught at Marina International in the Gambia before his stint at the Daily Observer.
Dida frowns at the US/Africa Summit, describing it as “an America attempt to undo the advances of China in Africa characterized by the Chinese heavy investment in many African countries”.
Mr Halake brands Barrack Obama a ‘Trojan Horse” who had become a perfect candidate for the imperial advancement in Africa and the Middle East. He blames Obama and the West for double standards and duplicity in the crimes committed against many innocent people and the resultant failed states across middle North Africa and Middle East.
Dida Halake cautions Gambians to engage in a peaceful political change rather than the violent and confrontational crisis seen in many countries. He however, admits that “I used to see the Gambia as a paradise, romanticize about the country, but now, with all the unnecessary crimes and prosecutions, the Gambia is no more a place I will long for.”
Mohammed Lamin Sillah’s interview with Dida Halake can be heard on Kairo Radio on Saturday.