The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, and Goodluck Jonathan, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and several others, on Sunday, mourned the passing of a former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, who served under the late Gen. Sani Abacha.
Diya, according to a statement on Sunday by his son, Prince Oyesinmilola Diya, died in the early hours of Sunday in Lagos. He was aged 78.
Born on April 3, 1944 at Odogbolu in Ogun State, Diya joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and fought during the Nigerian civil war.
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 second in command and the de facto Vice President of Nigeria under Abacha between 1994 and 1997.
Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Sunday, described Diya’s military career as “bold and courageous,” hailing him for his “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.”
“The President recalls that Diya was known for his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills, and discipline, and he displayed these virtues in the important roles he held in office as a military officer.
“The President salutes the former Chief of General Staff for his love, belief and loyalty to the country he cherished so much and fought gallantly on the frontlines to defend her unity,” the statement added.
Obasanjo said Diya’s death depleted the ranks of the nation’s leadership.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo described Diya’s life as a great success, adding that his accomplishments would be long remembered.
“I recall as a Military Governor of Ogun State, he made a 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.”
Also, Jonathan commiserated with the people and government of Ogun State over Diya’s death.
In a condolence message signed by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, Jonathan lauded Diya for serving the country well, stressing that as a soldier, he fought gallantly for Nigeria’s unity.
“He will be remembered for his efforts towards promoting peace and commitment to the progress and development of our nation,” Jonathan said.
Also, the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described Diya’s death as shocking, while condoling with his family.
He praised his contributions to national development and the military institution.
He said, “As much as he could, he (Diya) played a stabilising role during one of the most turbulent periods in our nation’s life in the aftermath of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. He will be remembered for his patriotism and service to the nation.”
Similarly, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, mourned Diya’s passing in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi.
Lawan described Diya as “a fine officer who played his role dutifully during some of Nigeria’s most critical times.”
“Diya kept his dignity under the unfortunate circumstances that ended his military career and remained a respected member of his community until he breathed his last” the Senate President recalled.
The Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, mourned Diya’s passing, describing him as a seasoned administrator and officer.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said Ogun State would not forget Diya’s role in its history.
“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,” Abiodun said.
The governor urged Nigerians to emulate the good virtues of the deceased.
Also, a former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, in a statement on Sunday, described Diya’s death as “a great loss to our country, Nigeria, and to Ogun State in particular.”
Daniel said, “Gen 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.”
Similarly, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, described Diya’s death as a colossal loss.
Sanwo-Olu further described him as “a gallant soldier and elder statesman, who served the country meritoriously.”
Also, Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Yinka Oyebode, stated that the late Diya “used the most productive part of his life to serve his fatherland with uncommon commitment and made a success of all the command positions and political offices he held in his lifetime.”
Also, former Senate President, David Mark. described Diya as one of the shining lights of the Nigerian Army.
“History will be kind to General Diya for his immense contributions to the peace, unity, and development of Nigeria,” Mark said.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser on Media and Strategy to the late Diya, Olawale Adekoya, told The PUNCH the family was delighted that the late General left a legacy worth emulating.
“How do you take the death of a colossus? How do you take the demise of a man who was an institution onto himself? A father, gentleman, handsome, charming, easygoing, tough, principled, but I can tell you that in that hard-looking military general was a heart of gold.
“We are mourning, indeed, but we are consoled that he left a legacy that he etched in the sands of time, knowing full well that generations to come will emulate him,” he said.
Recalling Diya’s last moments, Adekoya said, “The night he died, he slept like any other old person. Just past midnight, his wife and other family members discovered that he was breathing in a particular way and so he was rushed to a nearby hospital which he had been visiting. He was confirmed dead at exactly 1.05am.”
On burial arrangements, the spokesman said the family was deliberating and would communicate with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), before notifying the public.
“As I’m talking to you, the children are meeting. Dates and plans will come.
“Being a former second citizen and former Chief of General Staff, the family alone will not fix a date. We must communicate with the Aso Villa and Mr President. So, once that is done, the world will know about the arrangements,” he said.
Some of those who signed the condolence register at the late General’s resident in Ikeja included the Bishop of Ijebu Diocese and Archbishop of South-West of the First African Church Mission, Paul Onanuga.