President Tinubu eulogises late Diya

President Bola Tinubu on Saturday extolled the virtues of former Chief of General Staff, deceased Gen. Oladipo Diya, whom he described as selfless and diligent leader.

The president stated in his message to the final funeral rites of Diya at his Odogbolu hometown in Ogun State that the Diya’s contributions to nation-building remained a reference point for upcoming generations.

The president’s message was delivered by Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.

The president noted that while Diya’s death was painful, his impactful life and legacies were sufficient to console his loved ones and the generality of Nigerians.

He added that Diya’s contributions to the sanctity of Nigeria’s territorial integrity were legendary.

“Gen. Diya’s efforts towards curtailing several uprisings that threatened the corporate entity of Nigeria are legendary and these will remain indelible in the consciousness of Nigerians and sub-Sahara Africans.

“Indeed his life of selflessness and diligence in the service of the military remains a reference point for coming generations of military officers.

“His leadership and tactical prowess greatly contributed to the success of this nation.

“He implemented various reforms in the army, including training programmes and welfare of soldiers and under his leadership, the Nigerian Army witnessed significant advancement and operational effectiveness,’’ Tinubu stated.

Late Gen. Diya was born in Odogbolu, Ogun State on April 3, 1944.

He joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna at a youthful age and was part of the soldiers who fought during the Nigerian Civil War between July 6, 1967 and Jan. 15, 1970.

Diya studied Law at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he obtained an LLB degree.

He also went through the Nigerian Law School where he was called to the bar as Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

In 1993, deceased maximum ruler, Gen Sani Abacha appointed Diya as his Chief of General Staff and in 1994, made him Vice-Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council.

Prior to his appointment as Abacha’s second-in-command, Diya served as the Chief of Defence Staff and also as Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985.

On Dec. 21, 1997, the military regime of Abacha arrested top army officials including Gen. Diya, and 11 others for allegedly plotting to “violently’’ overthrow Abacha.

One week before his arrest, Diya allegedly narrowly missed becoming the victim of a bomb explosion at the Abuja airport.

He was on his way to represent Abacha at the funeral of the mother of Major-General Lawrence Onoja in Benue.

Diya, in collaboration with retired Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (Chief of Army Staff from 1996 to 1999) and other notable officers demanded four things from Abacha.

They had noticed that he was beginning to nurture the plan to transmute as president for life.

They demanded that the original draft of the 1995 Constitution be promulgated without the mutilation to which Abacha was subjecting the document.

They demanded that the June 12 crisis be resolved and along with it, the release of political prisoners which included the winner of the June 12 1993 presidential elections, late Bashorun MKO Abiola.

They also demanded that Abacha should make an unambiguous public pronouncement that he had no intention of succeeding himself.

The army generals demanded also that an attempt to eliminate Yoruba military officers should be terminated.

Diya was tried by a military tribunal and was given the death penalty.

Fortunately, upon the sudden death of Abacha in 1998, Diya was pardoned by the late Head of State’s successor, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.

Gen. Diya died on March 26, 2023

In his sermon, Rt. Rev. Babatunde Ogunbanwo, Bishop of Ijebu Southwest, described Diya as a lover of God and God’s duties.

Taking his text from the Acts of Apostles in the Bible, Ogunbanwo likened Diya to King David who served God’s purpose for his family, his work and his country.

According to the priest, Gen Diya served his generation faithfully while playing his part in the affairs of the nation.

“He is in the categories of those who left their marks in the annals of developmental and political history of Nigeria.

“He stood for whatever is right; a bold and courageous man and a military leader of great repute; disciplined, forthright, honest and not corrupt.

“He played his part in the affairs of our nation and his life was a great symbol of service and diligence. We have witnessed the end of a fulfilled life,’’ Ogunbanwo said.

He charged politicians and Nigerians in general to emulate the life of service which Diya led.

He enjoined the family to remain united and to keep the legacies of the patriarch intact.

Among dignitaries at the event were the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Kayode Egbetokun, Ogun State government functionaries, senators, House of Representatives members, former military administrators and captains of industry.

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