Nigerians Grieve as General Oladipo Diya Passes at 78

*Buhari, Obasanjo, Jonathan, Tinubu, Atiku, governors, others pay tribute

Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Olawale Ajimotokan, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja, James Sowole in Abeokuta and Segun James in Lagos

Former Chief of General Staff (CGS), Lt. General Oladipo Donaldson Oyeyinka Diya (rtd), who also served as Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) in 1994, has died. He was aged 78 years.

Diya’s death was announced in a message that went viral on the social media, signed by one of his children, Oyesinmilola Diya, on behalf of the family. The message stated that Diya died in the early hours of yesterday, Sunday, March. 26.

The message read, “On behalf of the entire Diya family home and abroad, we announce the passing onto glory of our dear husband, father, grandfather, brother, Lt- General Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya (Rtd) GCON, LLB, BL, PSC, FSS, mni.

“Our dear Daddy passed onto glory in the early hours of 26th March 2023. Please, keep us in your prayers as we mourn his demise in this period.
“Further announcements will be made public in due course.

“Barrister Prince Oyesinmilola Diya, on behalf of the family.”

There has been an outpouring of tributes from Nigerians, paying homage to Diya, who served as second-in-command to the late dictator, General Sanni Abacha.
Born on April 3, 1944 at Odogbolu, Ogun State, Diya was educated at the Methodist Primary School, Lagos, and Odogbolu Grammar School. He joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, and fought during the Nigerian Civil War. He later attended the US Army School of Infantry, the Command and Staff College, Jaji (1980–1981), and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.

While serving in the military, Diya studied law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he obtained an LLB degree, and then at the Nigerian Law School, where he was called to Bar as Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The deceased officer was Commander 31, Airborne Brigade, and was appointed Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985. He became General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army, in 1985, and later, Commandant, National War College (1991–1993) and, subsequently, appointed Chief of Defence Staff.

He was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1993 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994. As Chief of the General Staff, he was the de facto Vice President of Nigeria during the Sani Abacha military junta from 1994 until he was arrested for treason in 1997.
In 1997, Diya and some dissident soldiers had allegedly planned to overthrow the regime ofAbacha. The alleged coup was uncovered by forces loyal to Abacha, and Diya and his cohorts were jailed.

Diya was tried in a military tribunal and was given the death penalty. But following the untimely death of Abacha in 1998, Diya was pardoned by the successor to Abacha, Abdusalami Abubakar.

Buhari: He Was Brilliant, Possessed Exceptional Skills

President Muhammadu Buhari mourned the demise of Diya and described him as a brilliant officer with exceptional skills.
Buhari, in a release yesterday by Femi Adesina, paid tribute to Diya’s bold and courageous career in the Nigerian military and dedicated service to the country as General Officer Commanding, 82 Division; Commandant, National War College (1991–1993); Chief of Defence Staff; and Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985.

Buhari recalled that Diya was known for his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills and discipline, and that he displayed those virtues in the important roles he held in office as a military officer.

He praised Diya for his love, belief and loyalty to the country he cherished so much and fought gallantly on the frontlines to defend her unity.
On behalf of the federal government, the president extended heartfelt condolences to Diya’s family, friends and colleagues, and prayed that his soul finds rest with his Creator, saying may his contributions to the country never be forgotten.

Obasanjo: Diya’s Feats Will  Be Remembered After Him

Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, described the life of the late Diya as a great success and one of accomplishments, which would long be remembered after him.

Obasanjo, in a release by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, stated that with Diya’s passing, there was no doubt that the ranks of the country’s leadership had depleted “by the loss of a dedicated and resourceful patriot, who served the nation in various capacities as an army officer, community leader, and a legal practitioner.

“It is noteworthy that in the course of his military service, which straddled more than three decades, he acquitted himself as a dedicated officer and a real patriot. From the thick of the Nigerian Civil War to the post-war re-organisation of the army, he distinguished himself as a seasoned soldier.

“The rare diligence, loyalty and resourcefulness with which he carried out his duties and responsibilities, culminated in his appointment as Commander, 31 Airborne Brigade; Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985; and General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army in 1985.”
That, Obasanjo said, was also responsible for his appointment as “Commandant, National War College, 1991–1993; Chief of Defence Staff in 1993 and soon after, Chief of General Staff also in 1993; Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994 and later functioned as Nigeria’s Number Two man under the military administration of General Sani Abacha from 1994 to 1997.

“I recall as a Military Governor of Ogun State, he made tremendous mark through dedication to duty, loyalty to his fatherland and an impeccable example of incorruptible leadership. He was courageous and quite a disciplinarian and a no-nonsense officer.

“In retirement, Diya contributed to national development as a private businessman, legal practitioner and a provider of employment for many of our people. He is being mourned, therefore, beyond his immediate family and community.  I believe the entire nation also shares the pain and grief for the irreparable loss of a distinguished son of Nigeria, indeed.”

Jonathan, Atiku  Mourn, Say Diya Was Kind, Loved Education

Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, expressed sadness over the death of Diya, describing him as a committed patriot and courageous soldier.

Media assistant to Jonathan, Ikechukwu Eze, in a condolence message to the family, noted that Diya served the country diligently and fought for the unity of Nigeria, showing bravery and brilliance as a military leader.

He said he was as a kind-hearted and disciplined officer, well known for his loyalty to the country and love of fellow citizens.
The message added, “Diya devoted so much of his energy towards uniting Nigeria and showed exceptional brilliance while holding different command positions in the nation’s military leadership

“He will be remembered for his efforts towards promoting peace and commitment to the progress and development of our nation.”
On his part, the PDP presidential candidate in the February 25 presidential election, Atiku, in his condolence message, said, “My profound condolences to the family of Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya on the passing of the illustrious son of Odogbolu, where he was born and from where he rose to be a remarkable part of Nigeria’s history.

“His love for education saw him return to the university for his law degree, and his call to Bar at the time was an inspiration to many soldiers who came after him. I pray that God grants him rest and gives his family and friends the strength to go through this period.”

Tinubu: He Played Stabilising Role in June 12 Crisis

President-elect Bola Tinubu commiserated with the family of Diya, saying the deceased officer lived a remarkable life and played a stabilising role in the June 12 crisis.

Tinubu, in a statement by Tunde Rahman, said, “The news of the death of General Oladipo Diya early this morning came to me as a shock. I send my heartfelt condolences and sympathy to his immediate family, especially his wives and children.

“General Diya lived a remarkable life of a soldier and made his mark in the military, where he served our country diligently. As military governor of Ogun State, in the various military positions he held till he rose to the enviable position of Chief of General Staff and second-in-command to the Head of State, he served meritoriously.

“As much as he could, he played a stabilising role during one of the most turbulent periods in our nation’s life in the aftermath of June 12, 1993 presidential election. He will be remembered for his patriotism and service to the nation.”

He Was a Seasoned, Admirable Officer, FEC Mourns

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, on behalf of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday, mourned Diya, describing him as a seasoned and admirable officer of the Nigerian Army.

In a statement by Director, Information, Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, Mustapha said Diya was an experienced officer who showed excellent administrative capabilities in his various functions as Military Governor of Ogun State (1984 – 1985), Chief of Defence Staff, and Chief of General Staff (1993 – 1997); as well as a notable statesman who made invaluable contributions to nation-building.

The FEC condoled with the government and people of Ogun State, his family and friends, and prayed God to grant the soul of the deceased eternal rest.

Gbajabiamila Mourns, Recalls Diya’s Commitment to Nation

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed sadness over the passing of Diya, even as he recalled his commitment and service to the country.

Gbajabiamila, in a condolence message, recalled Diya’s commitment and service to Nigeria during his term in office as Chief of General Staff and in other capacities.

He prayed for the repose of the soul of Diya and that God should give his family, the people and government of Ogun State the fortitude to bear the loss.

Sanwo-Olu, George: It’s a Huge Loss, He Ran Good Race

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Chief Olabode George, mourned the passage of Diya.

Sanwo-Olu described Diya’s demise as a great loss to the country, and George said he ran a worthy race.

Sanwo-Olu, in a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, described the late Diya, as a gallant soldier and elder statesman, who served the country meritoriously as a military officer, Governor of Ogun State, and Chief of General Staff.

Sanwo-Olu also commiserated with Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun and the entire people of the state, especially indigenes of Odogbolu, on the demise of their illustrious son.

The governor stated, “The death of Lt.-General Oladipo Diya is a colossal loss to the country. He made lots of positive impact and contribution during his lifetime to the growth and development of Nigeria, especially in the Nigeria Army.

“He fought, along with several other patriots tirelessly for a united Nigeria during his days in the Nigerian Army, especially during the civil war. He also held positions in the armed forces and rose to the position of Chief of General Staff, (de facto Vice President of Nigeria) under the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.”

George stated in his message, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. May God give him eternal rest and may his memory be a blessing to his family and friends.

“He ran his race to the best of his calling and we must leave the rest for the pages of history. Good night, sir, till the resurrection morning, when we shall meet to part no more. May the Angels sing you to your resting place. My deepest condolences to his family, especially Simi.”

Uzodimma: Nigeria Just Lost Another Professional Soldier

Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma described the passing of Diya as shocking and regrettable, saying the country just lost another professional soldier, whose experience garnered over many years, services and advice, are badly needed in the country today.

A statement by Uzodimma’s Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachuku, stated that the governor commiserated, not just with the Diya family and his Odogbolu community in Ogun State, where he impacted lives so much, but also the government and people of Ogun State, the Nigerian military and the federal government, over the loss.

Abiodun: His Contributions to Nigeria’s Security Indelible

Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun commiserated with the government and people of Nigeria, as well as the military, friends and associates of Diya, saying his contributions to the country’s security architecture are indelible.

In a statement by his spokesman, Kunle Somorin, Abiodun described the departed army general as a seasoned administrator and gentleman whose role in the history of Ogun State will never be forgotten.

The governor stated regarding Diya, “He was courageous and daring, quick-witted and patriotic. Gen. Diya played frontline roles in the evolution and development of the state and his activities in the military, in part, led to the eventual return and enthronement of democracy in the country In 1999.”

Olarenwaju: A Fine Soldier Has Passed On

Former Minister of Communication and military commander, Major General Tajudeen Adeniyi Olarenwaju, described the passing of Diya as national loss of a patriot, statesman, courageous officer and a fine gentleman.

Olanrenwaju, who was jailed together with Diya by their estranged boss, Abacha, following a phantom coup trial, but escaped death after the death of Abacha in 1998, extolled the virtues of Diya as a principled military officer with high intellectual disposition.

“His legal knowledge coupled with vast military experience, made him to excel on many fronts as a no-nonsense field officer or office administrator,” said Olarenwaju.

He expressed heartfelt condolences to Diya’s nuclear and extended families, colleagues and friends.

 Okowa: Nigeria Still in Dire Need of His Wise Counsel

Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, commiserated with Ogun State Government, the Diya family of Odogbolu and the people of the state on the passing of Diya, saying he passed at a time the country still needed his wise counsel.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, Okowa stated that the news of Diya’s death was saddening, especially as the country was currently in dire need of the wise counsels of well-meaning Nigerians, including the deceased.

Okowa, however, stated that the memories of the departed general would remain immortal, and urged Nigerians and the Yoruba race in particular, to remember him for his illustrious contributions to the unity of Nigeria and sanctity of its sovereignty.

The governor stated, “As Deltans, we are extremely proud of the outstanding contributions of Gen. Diya to the Nigerian Army, where he served in different capacities from 1964 to 1997, including as Vice Chairman, Provincial Ruling Council in 1994.

“He was also Military Governor of Ogun State from January, 1984 to August, 1985. Gen. Diya had an illustrious military career and served the nation with full dedication and commitment to duty. On behalf of my family, the government and people of Delta, I send my deepest condolences to the Diya family, the Yoruba nation and the people of Odogbolu where he hails from.”

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