The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in a tweet on 14th July, 2020 through its official twitter handle, expressed its sadness following the demise of its first female helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile whose sad event occurs on Tuesday 14th July, 2020 by a car driven by her old classmate while reversing at the Air Force Base in Kaduna.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, confirmed in a statement in Abuja that Arotile died on 14th July, 2020 when she was hit by her secondary school classmate who was too excited to see her, in a bit to exchange pleasantries, knocked down the pilot while reversing.
He said Arotile joined the Nigerian Air Force out of a passion for the job. In her words “I joined the military simply out of a passion for it. Being military personnel has been a long time ambition; the carriage and what it stands for are simply exceptional”
The statement read: “Flying Officer was born on 13th December, 1995 to the family of Mr and Mrs Akintunde Arotile in Kaduna, Flying Officer Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile hails from Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State. She attended Air Force Primary School, Kaduna from 2000 – 2005 and Air Force Secondary School, Kaduna from 2006 – 2011 before she later gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna as a member of 64 Regular course on 22nd September, 2012.
“Flying Officer Arotile was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a pilot Officer on 16th September, 2017 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the Nigerian Defence Academy”.
Daramola who said Arotile was decorated as the first female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force on 15th October 2019, after completing her flying training in South Africa, holds a commercial pilot license and also had a tactical flying training on the Agusta 109 power attack helicopter in Italy”.
It is worthy to note that Arotile been an experienced combat Flying Officer, had to take President Buhari on a tour of the Agusta 109 power attack helicopter which was acquired for the NAF in the fight against terrorism at the induction ceremony which took place at the Eagle Square on February, 2020 in Abuja.
Meanwhile the father of the deceased Mr Akintunde Arotile recalled the last conversation he had with his daughter, according to him, she had just returned from Katsina State on an operation saying they spoke on phone at exactly 1:00 pm, only to call back at the space of four hours to receive the news of his daughter in the mortuary.
According to Sahara, Mr Arotile was grateful for the fact that his daughter was able to achieve her childhood dreams of becoming a pilot before her death.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, also registered his condolences to the family of the late Arotile on behalf of her colleagues and other staff of the military over this huge loss and pray for the repose of her soul.
Similarly, the Presidency in a statement through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Mr Femi Adesina, said the late Arotile has impacted the country within the short period of time she has lived.
The statement reads: “President Muhammadu Buhari received with deep pain the passing of Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, condoling with the family on the loss of such a promising officer, whose short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security.
President Buhari respects Arotile’s bravery in the area of protecting the country from the activities of bandits and terrorists, adjudging that her memory and efforts will never be forgotten.
Buhari also commiserates with the NAF family, all friends of the deceased, the Government and good people of Kogi State on the loss and prayed the Almighty will receive her soul and comfort the family she left behind.
The Senate President Ahmad Lawan in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media Ola Awoniyi described the sudden exit of Arotile as tragic and shocking. He said the 24 years old Flying Officer left indelible footprints as a committed combat Helicopter pilot.
Lawan, on the other hand commiserated with Nigerian Air Force and people of Kogi State Over the loss and prayed for her soul to Rest in Peace.
The Nigerian First lady Aisha Buhari in a tweet which reads: “The deceased was an intelligent young woman, a huge potential, a representative of both Nigerian women and youth, and what they could achieve”.The First lady expressed her condolences to the family, friends and the NAF.
Reacting to the news of Arotile’s departure, the Minister of Defence Major General Bashir Magashi in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadir says: “We have lost a brave, gallant, courageous and patriotic Nigerian at a time when her services is needed most, to up scale the tempo of counter – terrorism and war against banditry plaguing the nation’s security architecture”.
The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello is not left out as he equally expressed his sadness over sad incidence said it is shocking to receive the news of her departure saying she had gotten to the top of her career at a tender age.
The Governor who gave his condolence message in the state capital, Lokoja through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Onogwu Muhammad said “Late Flying Officer Arotile brought the country to a standstill on the 15th of October, 2019 when she was decorated as the first female combat Helicopter Pilot”. He equally commiserates with her family, the NAF, Kogi state and the nation at large.
In another development, Nigerians twitter users are having mixed reactions over the death of the combat Flying Officer as some of them said a full investigation should be carried out to ascertain the cause of her death. Others were of the opinion that dilapidated road around that axis might have caused it. May her Soul Rest with the Lord, Amen.