Facts about Gen. Oladipo Diya as he dies at 79
Former Chief of General Staff Supreme Headquarters, Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd) is dead.
The ex-military general died at the age of 79. 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 death was announced in a message that went viral on social media and signed by one of his children, Prince Oyesinmilola Diya, on behalf of the family, that Diya died in the early hours of Sunday, March 26.
The message reads, “On behalf of the entire Diya family home and abroad; We announce the passing on to Glory of our dear Husband, Father, Grandfather, brother, Lt- General Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya (Rtd) GCON, LLB, BL, PSC, FSS, mni.
“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.
“Barrister Prince Oyesinmilola Diya, on behalf of the family.”
Donaldson Oladipo Diya was born on 3 April 1944 at Odogbolu,Ogun State, then Western Region, Nigeria.
He was educated at the Methodist Primary School, Lagos, the Odogbolu Grammar School.
Diya joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and fought during the Nigerian Civil War.
He later attended the US Army School of Infantry, the Command and Staff College, Jaji (1980–1981) and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.
While serving in the military, Diya studied law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he obtained an LLB degree, and then at the Nigerian Law School, where he was called to bar as Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Oladipo Diya was Commander 31, Airborne Brigade. He was appointed Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985. He became General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigeria Army in 1985.
General Oladipo Diya was Commandant, National War College (1991–1993) and then was appointed Chief of Defence Staff.
Journey to detention
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 the de facto Vice President of Nigeria during the Sani Abacha military junta from 1994 until he was arrested for treason in 1997.
His Principal Staff Officer during this period was Bode George.
In 1997 Diya and dissident soldiers in the military allegedly planned 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 was given the death penalty. Upon the untimely death of Abacha in 1998, Diya was pardoned by the late Head of State’s successor, Abdusalami Abubakar.
Most people believed that the much-hyped coup was, in fact, a ploy by Abacha to do away with Diya, who was increasingly becoming popular among the elite and opposition parties, for his moderate views on the situation in Nigeria. Earlier on, Abacha’s loyalists had twice attempted to assassinate Diya, once at the airport and then in the streets, using bombs.
But most analysts said that whether motivated by a real coup plot or not, the arrest of General Diya signalled 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.
Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a leading Nigerian human rights campaigner, said: Almost everybody mentioned in the alleged coup had been an Abachaboy, an Abacha henchman, so the situation is very funny. The facts are not clear to us. We want the whole truth. Late Chief Fawehinmi was quoted in The Post Express, a Lagos daily.
The fact that General 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.
Others officers involved in the coup plot includes; the then Minister for Works, late Gen Abdulkarim Adisa (rtd) and the Minister for Communications, Gen Tajudeen Olarewaju (rtd) among others.
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