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Former Military Governor of Ogun State, Nigerian Chief of General Staff and Vice President, Oladipo Diya, has died at the age of 79.
Announcing his death on Sunday, 26th March 2023, his son – Oyesinmilola Diya beseeched Nigerians to keep the surviving family in prayer.
Oyesinmilola said in a press statement, “On behalf of the entire Diya family, both at home and abroad, we announce the passing on to Glory of our dear Husband, Father, Grandfather, and Brother, Lt. General Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya (retd).
“Further announcements regarding his funeral arrangements will be made public in due course,” said Oyesinmilola.
Life and Death of Oladidpupo Diya
Diya was born on 3 April 1944 at Odogbolu in Ogun State, Nigeria. He received his education at Methodist Primary School, Lagos and Odogbolu Grammar School. He joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, where he fought during the Nigerian Civil War.
Diya studied law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he obtained an LLB degree, and was called to the bar as a solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Diya was appointed Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985, and later became General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army, and then Commandant of the National War College from 1991 to 1993.
He was appointed Chief of Defence Staff and later as Chief of General Staff in 1993, making him the de facto Vice President of Nigeria during the Sani Abacha military junta from 1994.
However, Diya was arrested for treason in 1997, accused of planning a coup with dissident soldiers to overthrow the regime of Sani Abacha.
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 sentenced to death by firing squad, but his sentence was commuted by the Head of State, Abdusalami Abubakar.
Upon his release, he was discharged from the army, stripped of his rank, and barred from using his military title.
After his release, Diya refused to cooperate with any investigations into his activities while he was Vice President. He spent most of his time attempting to recover possession of various properties seized by the government upon his arrest.
He made no attempt to explain how he purchased these lavish properties on the salary of a lieutenant general.
Diya’s alleged coup plot was believed by many to be a ploy by Abacha to remove him from power as Diya was becoming increasingly popular among the elite and opposition parties for his moderate views on the situation in Nigeria.
Diya was almost assassinated twice by Abacha’s loyalists using bombs at the airport and on the streets.
The arrest of General Diya signaled deep divisions within the Nigerian military and reflected rising tensions over General Abacha’s apparent intention to remain in office by engineering his own election as President.
The fact that Diya and almost all of the others arrested were ethnic Yoruba from the already deeply disaffected southwest was seen by some as a virtual provocation at a time when a country of powerful regional rivalries was entering into a period of renewed civilian politicking.
General Abacha, like his inner core of senior officers and much of the army’s rank and file, was a Hausa-speaking northerner of Kanuri origin.
Diya’s death has been received with mixed feelings, with some people remembering him as a loyal, dedicated and disciplined officer while others remember him for his alleged involvement in the coup plot. Despite the mixed opinions, Diya’s contributions to the development of Nigeria’s military and his service to the country cannot be overlooked.
Ogun Will Not Forget Diya In History — Abiodun
Governor Dapo Abiodun in a statement from his spokesperson, Kunle Somorin has described Diya as a seasoned administrator and officer.
The Governor added that Ogun state would not forget Diya’s role in its history, as he played a pivotal role in the security architecture of Nigeria.
“He was courageous and daring, quick-witted and patriotic.
“Diya played frontline roles in the evolution and development of the state and Nigeria as a whole,” the governor said.
Governor Abiodun further urged Nigerians to emulate the good virtues that he left behind.
He Survived Myriad Of Intrigues, Near Death Encounters — Amosun
Former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun joined the mourning of the late General saying he was a child of destiny purposed to live long.
He made this remark while noting that late Diya had survived a myriad of intrigues and near-death experiences both in military and public service.
In a statement obtained by PLATFORM TIMES, Amosun said in part: “General Diya was well regarded for unusual grace upon his life as recipient of God’s special anointing which ensured that he survived myriad of intrigues and several near-death encounters in his Military and public service career.
“Undoubtedly, he was a child of destiny purposed to live long. In this wise, I join the Diya Family in thanksgiving to the Heavens for a life that ran its full course according to God’s plan.
We Lost An Exemplary Statesman — Daniel
Reacting to the news of the passing of the former Nigeria CGS, Otunba Engr. Gbenga Daniel, Senator-elect of Ogun East, expressed his grief and paid tribute to the late General.
He described the demise of General Diya as a great loss to Nigeria and Ogun State, stating that the late General’s statesmanship would be sorely missed by many.
He stated that the late General played a significant role as a Military strategist during the military era, and his stabilizing role cannot be forgotten.
As Military Administrator of Ogun State, he was exemplary in enforcing the War Against Indiscipline, with a particular focus on a cleaner environment.
“The demise of General Oladipo (rtd), is a great loss to our country, Nigeria and to Ogun State in particular.
“General Diya, as Chief of General Staff played his part as a Military strategist and his stabilising role during the military era can never be forgotten.
“As Military Administrator of Ogun State, he was exemplary in the enforcement of the War Against Indiscipline with focus on a cleaner environment.
“He will surely be missed by a lot of people for different reasons and especially for his statesmanship”, said the former Ogun State Governor.
While praying for General Diya’s repose, Otunba Daniel expressed his condolences to the late General’s family, friends, and associates, highlighting his close personal experiences and relationships with General Diya both in and out of public office.
He added that the nation has lost a great patriot and leader, but his legacy will undoubtedly live on in the hearts of many Nigerians who knew him.
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