Oladipo Diya: Afenifere mourns
… describes him as a patriot
Tuesday March 28, 2023
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has described the demise of Lt. General Donaldson Oladipo Diya, GCON, as another loss of a patriotic Nigerian and an illustrious Yoruba son.
This was contained in a message by the National Publicity Secretary of the association, Comrade Jare Ajayi, while reacting to the death of the former Chief of Defence during the regime of late General Sani Abacha.
Diya, who was born in Odogbolu, Ogun State on April 3, 1944, breathed his last in the early hours of Sunday, March 26, 2023 as contained in a statement by his first son, Barrister Oyesinmilola Diya.
According to Afenifere, Diya, who was once Military Governor of Ogun State (1984 – 1985), Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of General Staff was a patriot who made invaluable contributions to Nigeria. Diya was also Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994.
“He contributed his own quota through his participation in the civil war which was fought to keep Nigeria one. He further did his bit afterwards including his services as military governor of Ogun state.”
Ajayi speculated that Diya must also have did his own bit as a patriot when he was the de facto second in command to the then Head of State, General Sani Abacha. He said this speculation could be based “on, among others, the fact that since the nation has been hearing about ‘Abacha loot’, there has never been anything like ‘Diya loot’”.
He observed that Diya’s attempt to dissuade Abacha from the inglorious paths he was embarking upon contributed to the trumped up Coup charge against him.
It would be recalled that on December 21, 1997, Abacha ordered the arrest of Diya and other top military officials including Maj-Gen Tajudeen Olanrewaju and Maj-Gen Abdulkarim Adisa, among others.
They were arrested for allegedly plotting a coup to oust Abacha from government.
Before the arrest, Diya was reported to have cheated death narrowly by allegedly missing a bomb explosion at Abuja International Airport.
Diya and his colleagues were tried in a military tribunal and initially sentenced to death. But the sentence was later commuted to a 25-year jail term.
Upon the sudden death of Abacha in 1998, Diya was pardoned by the late Head of State’s successor, General Abdusalami Abubakar.
Of course, many have a low opinion of Oladipo Diya for allegedly abetting the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by late Chief M. K. O. Abiola.
The key role he played in Sani Abacha regime that ousted Chief Ernest Shonekan as head of Interim Government used to rubbish Abiola’s mandate, was also cited to buttress the uncomplimentary role allegedly played by Diya.
But the fact that he was to be later accused of plotting a coup against his principal along with some Yoruba army officers and intellectuals including Professor Femi Odekunle can, in a way, attenuate or mitigate the level of misgiving held against him by many Nigerians, particularly his Yoruba kinsmen and women.
Afenifere spokesman recalled that top army officers including President Muhammadu Buhari lauded the late Oladipo Diya for “his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills and discipline”. Virtues he displayed eloquently in various capacities he served as a public officer.
Ajayi, on behalf of Afenifere, commiserated with the immediate family of the late army general, Ogun State, Yorubaland and Nigeria as a whole. The organization prayed for the peaceful repose of the deceased’s soul.
In conclusion, Afenifere called on those at the helm of affairs to ensure that good governance prevails so that the sacrifices of patriots including Diya would not be in vain.