The Federal Executive Council (FEC), President Muhammadu Buhari, President-Elect, Bola Tinubu, former military leader, General Ibrahim Babangida, former president, Goodluck Jonathan, Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu and others have expressed shock over the death of Lt-.Gen. Oladipo Diya (retd).
Diya, who would have turned 79 years old on April 3, died yesterday morning. He served as Chief of the General Staff, under military head of state, General Sani Abacha from 1994 until his arrest for treason in 1997.
He previously served as Chief of Defence Staff and was Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985.
His passage was announced in a message signed by one of his children, Prince Oyesinmilola Diya, on behalf of the family.
The message read in part: “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.”
The country home of the late General Diya, Agada road in Odogbolu, Ogun State, was devoid of sympathisers, yesterday, even after his demise was announced in the early hours of the day.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent that visited the residence observed that as at 1:30p.m., no condolence register was placed, the gate to the residence was locked, with only journalists spotted, trying to gather information.
The security guard of the house, who spoke to newsmen, said no one was at home and any information needed could only be got at the late General’s residence in Ikeja, Lagos.
Meanwhile, messages of condolences have trailed his demise.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) described his passage as a shock.
In a statement issued by Director, Information, Willie Bassey, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, described Diya as a seasoned military officer with admirable administrative capabilities in his various functions as the military governor of Ogun State (1984 – 1985), Chief of Defence Staff, and the Chief of General Staff (1993 – 1997); as well as a notable statesman who made invaluable contributions to nation-building.
He said FEC condoled with the government and people of Ogun State, his family and friends, and prays to God to grant the soul of the deceased eternal rest.
Buhari pays tribute
President Buhari, in a statement by Mr. Femi Adesina, in Abuja, paid tribute to Diya’s bold and courageous career in the Nigeria military.
He particularly lauded 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 from January 1984 to August 1985.
Buhari recalled that the late 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 saluted 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.
Buhari, who extended heartfelt condolences to Diya’s family, friends and colleagues, prayed that “Diya’s soul finds rest with his Creator, and may his contributions to the nation never be forgotten.”
President-elect Tinubu mourns Diya
While expressing his sadness over the passing of the retired general in a statement, President-elect, Bola Tinubu, praised his contributions to national development and the military institution.
“I send my heartfelt condolences and sympathy to his immediate family, especially his wives and children.
“Gen. Diya lived a remarkable life of a soldier and he made his mark in the military where he served our country diligently as Military Governor of Ogun and in the various military positions he held.
“He rose to the enviable position of Chief of General Staff and second in command to the Head of State, he served meritoriously.”
Tinubu noted that as much as he could, Diya played a stabilising role during one of the most turbulent periods in the country’s life in the aftermath of June 12, 1993 presidential election.
The President-elect said the deceased would be remembered for his patriotism and service to the nation.
Disciplined officer – Jonathan
Former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in a condolence message to the family, noted that Diya served the country diligently and fought for the unity of Nigeria, adding that he showed bravery and brilliance as a military leader.
He described Diya as a kindhearted and disciplined officer, well-known for his loyalty to the country and love of fellow citizens.
Dr. Jonathan recalled that “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.”
Obasanjo: Dedicated officer, real patriot
Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, said with the demise of Diya, the ranks of the nation’s leadership have been 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.”
He recalled that General Diya lived a life of utter devotion in the course of public service saying, “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.”
Obasanjo added that his entire family joined in wishing the late Diya’s family the comfort and solace sorely needed during this period of bereavement and great trial.
“We, however, have cause to thank God that his life was a great success and many of his accomplishments will for long be remembered after him,” Obasanjo said.
Kalu: He lived purposeful life
Former governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, stressed that he was a compassionate and selfless statesman and urged the family to uphold the remarkable legacies of their late patriarch.
Kalu acknowledged the contributions of the late military officer to nation-building in various capacities, adding that the deceased lived a purposeful life.
In a condolence message, Kalu prayed to God to give the Diya family the fortitude to bear the loss.
“I mourn the passing of the former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya (retd)
“The deceased played noble roles in the social, economic and political development of the country in different positions.
“He was highly detrabilised, compassionate and committed to the growth and progress of Nigeri.”
Kalu prayed to God to grant the late military officer eternal rest.”
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, in a statement in Abeokuta by his spokesperson, Kunle Somorin, described Diya as a seasoned administrator, gentleman and officer whose contributions to the development of the security architecture of Nigeria would remain indelible.
The governor added that the 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,” the governor said.
Abiodun called on the family members, friends and associates of the departed leader to take solace in the fact that he played the parts assigned to him by providence diligently, conscientiously and patriotically meritoriously.
Peter Obi mourns
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, in a post on his verified Twitter handle, said the late Diya’s service to the people and the nation in different capacities will always be remembered.
“My family and I convey our most profound condolences to the Diya family on the death of their patriarch, Lt- General Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya (Rtd) GCON. His service to the people and the nation, in different capacities, will always be remembered.”
Courageous, brave -Ex-Kwara MILAD
A former military governor of Kwara State, Salaudeen Adebola Latinwo, identified late Diya as a strong, courageous and brave soldier whose loyalty to the corps was indisputable.
Latinwo, in his condolence message to the family, noted that the late retired General would be remembered for his ideals and uncanny sense of responsibility, which he brought to bear during his tenure of office.
He added that the late Diya was a fine officer who worked with like minds for the stability of the nation.
While commiserating with the bereaved family, Latinwo urged them to be comforted and take solace in the fact that the retired General bequeathed good legacy and etched his footprints in the sands of time.
Clerics, others react
Rt. Rev. Babtunde Ogunbanwo, Anglican Bishop of Ijebu South, said Diya was highly disciplined and stood for the unity of the nation.
“In 1993 he had every opportunity to become the Head of State, instead he stepped down for General Abacha just for the sake of peace and unity.
“When he was governor of Ogun State, if you steal money he will throw you in the guardroom because he is a committed Nigerian.
“We as Yoruba people, as Odogbolu people, and as Ijebu people, we are proud of him. He lived a simple life of impact and integrity and we thank God for a life well spent,” Ogunbanwo said.
Reacting, the Dean, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Odogbolu, Rev. Olayiwola Awoyungbo, said at the Church premises in Odogbolu that the late Diya contributed immensely to the development of his community.
“He is a man that is loved by the people, especially considering his role in the socioeconomic development of Odogbolu community.
“When he was detained by the government of late Gen. Sani Abacha, the people of Odogbolu stood by him. He also contributed to the development of this Church materially, spiritually, morally and financially,” he said.
Also, Olugbon of Odogbolu, Olusola Ogunaike, who noted that death remained natural, said that the late Diya was a good man and a good ambassador of the state.
“He did very well as vice president. He was a role model. The community is proud of him. Everybody will go one day,” he said.
Also, Mr Oyewole Diya, younger brother to the deceased and a former member, Federal House of Representatives, said that the Diya family had lost a unifiying factor.
“We lost our dad 40 years ago and my late brother took it upon himself to send everybody in the family to school.
“He practically made everybody in the family and gave us all an opportunity to be successful in life without reservation.
“I am what I am today by the grace of God and with the help of my brother,” he said.
Mr Akinola Adeniyi, Diya’s younger brother from another mother, described the death as shocking, saying that he contributed meaningfully to the wellbeing of his siblings.
He explained that the late Diya was a Christian to the core and he died on a Sunday too.
“He always wanted the best for his family and his people. He gave out scholarships and ensured developmental projects in his community,” he said.
Adefuye, others react
Diya would be remembered for standing with the people during June 12
Senator Anthony Adefuye said the late Diya would be fondly remembered for the role he played during the June 12 struggle, where he stood by the people and their mandate.
The annulment of the presidential election held on June 12, 1993, sparked a chain of events that began with civic uprising in Lagos and across Nigeria.
Adefuye said this when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the deceased at his residence at 31 Adekunle Fajuyi Street, Ikeja, Lagos.
The senator said that the late general stood for honesty and he was a fan of the media.
“When he was vice president he was always on the side of the people even during the June 12 problems, he stood with us and that is why we have a good bond.
“He has performed more than an ordinary person for this country and we all mourn him as he died at the age of 79,” Adefuye said.