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Oladipupo Diya: Adieu! dear General

By David Olusoga Fayemi
29 March 2023   |   4:30 am
The Diya name is made popular in Nigeria by a young handsome boy born some 79 years ago to a family that hails from a small but historic town of Odogbolu in Ogun State with the name Donaldson Oladipupo.
General Donaldson Oladipupo Diya


The Diya name is made popular in Nigeria by a young handsome boy born some 79 years ago to a family that hails from a small but historic town of Odogbolu in Ogun State with the name Donaldson Oladipupo. The parents, especially the father must have known that the young man was destined for something special. The name Donaldson is of the patronymic class and as such the bearers of the name are those deemed to have some kind of patriarchal authority and leadership entrusted on them.

The departed Lt. General is without doubt very charismatic and respectable from childhood to so many in his personal, professional, religious, and communal life. Those who knew him well are drawn more closely to him because of his mien, candor, generosity, and altruism. On the other hand, some of those that knew him well also despised him for the audacity of his convictions. As a leader of men, he was not only a military governor and vice president; he was also at a time, a commandant of a national war college which was at the time responsible for the training and grooming of the finest ranking military brains in the land besides the fact that he was once the Chief of General Staff of the Nigerian armed forces. On the home front, he was bestowed with the title of Asiwaju of Odogbolu in addition to other traditional chieftaincy title elsewhere.

Now to the name Oladipupo, kalabarian holds that the name connotes a person that is a great lover of nature, and an out-of-doors person. The bearer is one that is attracted to the mysteries of nature. The bearer is also one that is too positive, blunt, and candid in speech. He is also one that could be easily offended but often do not show it. He is one who craves attention and understanding but rarely gets it as others often struggle to understand him and accuse him of being cool and aloof.

The name according to the philosophy also connotes one who is too complex for an average individual to appreciate the depth of his true nature. The name equally suggests a very individual, independent person and one that lives within his own thoughts. This general trait clearly tells the story of a General who sacrificed so much for his country in its darkest period but who is grossly underappreciated for perceived aloofness

He was a son his own people sometimes love to hate for the reasons often times not too clear or articulated sufficiently. Nonetheless, the peace and quiet we now enjoy on the Obaship tussle in our town is one no one can deny is largely the product of the audacity I alluded to earlier. Not many has the privilege of knowing that the General was even personally tired of the involvement of military in politics and was already looking forward to a promising life in the legal profession along with his son who was already closing in on a degree in law at the time.

The annulment of the June 12 Presidential election put paid to that dream having already celebrated with him and his family his imminent retirement as well as his call to the Nigerian Bar. Many commentators will write on his pre and post annulment roles. Many more will even write on the phantom coup that changed the trajectory of the story of his life. On the two, I do not want to comment as my father took his last breath and strength defending the innocence of a son who one may call many things but certainly not a traitor because he had all his life, put his position always on the table for all to see.

Whether one understood that position or appreciated it is another matter altogether.
General Oladipupo Diya in the early days of the military’s return to power in the 1980s often times invited his military colleagues and bosses to celebrate Christmas with him at Odogbolu.One thing that continues to resonate with me was the firm position of my father that an OmoOlu cannot invite a friend to his home and turn to betray him except there is more to it than meets the eye. My father urged the town not to give up on their son. He took his last breath speaking out against the coup as the Balogun of the town despite warnings from several high places. The trial of his tribe’s man commenced on the day he was interred on a somber St. Valentine’s Day in the grief stricken town in 1998. On that day, General Diya showed the candor, the courage and the eloquence associated with the name Oladipupo by demanding the presence of those he described as the planner and executioner of the all alleged coup. He is a man that never disguises his respect for nature, order, honour and integrity.

He celebrated all the molders of his own destiny to the very end and their children can testify to this fact. He was very supportive of the book ‘Man and His conflicting Ideologies’ written by me in honour of my father. He graciously chaired the occasion along with Alhaji Tanko Yakassi, a fellow youth combatant of my father in their quest for liberation of their country from the grip of the colonial rulers.

It is sad that many will still not appreciate and understand the sacrifice of this patriot, but I know posterity will be kinder to him. I call on Nigerians, especially all Odogbolu indigenes irrespective of any cultural or traditional misgivings to come together to celebrate this iconic ‘OmoOlu’. We did it once in 1997/1998 after all – omo eni oniburu titi ka fi fun ekun paje (no matter our bad a child is, no parent can throw him out to the wolves to consume).

We also demonstrated it with our overwhelming vote for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2015 when most Yoruba looked the other way. We showed him love for his love for our son for restoring all his privileges in full which a previous Yoruba president did not do. This we did even though many of our people are not always too anxious to celebrate him. We must show the world that we are proud of him and we must celebrate him for who he was. He was a brilliant man whose purpose in life drove my father and many other well-meaning indigenes to establish a secondary school in the town when he was turned down by a prominent missionary school in Lagos despite having an excellent result.

This they did so that one day Odogbolu and indeed Nigeria will have a General who played his path in challenging tyranny and dictatorship that threatened the aspiration of liberty envisioned by the county’s founding fathers. He has finally gone to join the ancestors of our land. I can only pray like King Charles, that flight of Angels sing Donaldson, a very beautiful, very spiritual and very devoted soul to his rest.
Fayemi wrote via