Tolulope to be buried with full military honours July 23
As Ministers of Women Affairs, Information, members of National Assembly pay condolence visit to CAS
The remains of late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, the Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF’s) first female combat helicopter pilot, who died on 14 July 2020, will be laid to rest with full military honours at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja on 23 July 2020.
This was contained in a press statement issued by the Director of Public Relations and Information of Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar received some members of the Federal Executive Council as well as members of the National Assembly who visited him at Headquarters NAF at various times yesterday, 16 July 2020.
These came to condole with him over the unfortunate demise of Tolulope, the late young NAF pilot.
Among them were; the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, as well as the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The joint delegation from the upper and lower houses of the National Assembly, comprising 20 members, was led by the Chairman Senate Committee on Air Force, Distinguished Senator Bala Ibn-Na’Allah, and the Chairman House Committee on the Air Force, Honourable Shehu Koko.
The Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, who was accompanied on the visit by the Director-General of the National Council for Women Development as well as leaders of some other Women’s Groups, spoke during her visit.
Dame Tallen said she received the news of the death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile with great shock, from which she said it would be difficult for her to recover.
She, however, noted that the death of the young pilot would not be in vain as she would forever be remembered for her gallantry and contributions towards ensuring a secured Nigeria.
The Minister prayed that God would comfort the entire NAF family and grant the departed officer’s soul eternal rest.
While conveying his condolences, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on his part, prayed that God would grant Flying Officer Arotile’s soul peaceful repose and her family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Air Force, Senator Bala Ibn-Na’Allah, stated that the Committee, and the Senate as a whole, lacked the words to express how painful her death was to them.
He said they were however consoled that there was no greater honour than when one dies while in service to one’s Nation.
Senator Ibn-Na’Allah described the late Tolulope as a dedicated and goal-oriented young woman who lived an exemplary life that was worthy of emulation by other young Nigerians.
He reiterating that the Nigerian Senate shares in the pain of the Service as well as that of the Arotile family.
The senator urged the NAF to continue to give opportunities for many young Nigerian girls to realize their dreams of serving their Country as pilots in the NAF.
The Chairman House Committee on the Air Force, Honourable Shehu Koko, on his part, recalled the day Flying Officer Arotile was winged as the first female combat helicopter pilot in the NAF.
Honourable Koko noted that they at the House of Representatives is aware of the many exploits the young officer had made in her short but impactful career.
He said they were extremely pained by her passing away but had taken solace in the fact that she had left a lasting legacy.
He therefore urged the CAS, and through him, the family of the deceased young officer to be consoled by the good deeds she left behind.
In his response during the visits, the CAS expressed his appreciation to the esteemed dignitaries as well as all Nigerians for their overwhelming show of support to the NAF over the passing of Flying Officer Arotile.
He noted that the NAF would never forget her because she was the first female combat helicopter pilot in the Service.
She will also be remembered for her legacy as a very intelligent, highly committed and extremely patriotic officer who excelled in virtually every endeavour.
Air Marshal Abubakar recalled that she was selected while on basic helicopter course in South Africa.
Due to her excellent performance, she underwent a more advanced flying course on the Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter in Italy.
She wold later return to finish the basic course along with her other colleagues in South Africa. Such, the CAS said, was her commitment to excellence on the job.
“This was what gave us confidence to assign her to introduce the Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, during the induction ceremony at the Eagle Square in Abuja on 6 February 2020; which she did excellently”, he added.
Speaking further the CAS noted that Flying Officer Arotile had left her mark in the sands of time.
This, he said, proves that when it comes to displaying excellence and adding value to the society, age or gender should not be barriers.
He noted that her contributions through combat missions conducted, along with her colleagues, in the fight against armed banditry and other criminal activities in the country would also never be forgotten.
CAS noted that the NAF would therefore continue to give equal opportunities to female officers in terms of training.
In the meantime, total of 11 female student pilots were currently undergoing flying training both within and outside Nigeria.
Air Marshal Abubakar reiterating the huge loss Flying Officer Arotile’s death was to the NAF.
He noted that the Service would continue to be consoled by the legacy Tolulope left behind.
He further assured that the NAF will honour her memory as well as all those who had paid the supreme price before her.
NAF will continue to work assiduously to ensure success in the fight against terrorism, banditry and other security threats for the overall peace and prosperity of a united Nigeria, he empahasised.
Meanwhile, a condolence visit to the Arotile Family in Lokoja by a high-powered delegation had been scheduled to hold on a date before the burial.
It composed of the CAS, Honourable Minister of Women Affairs as well as the Chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Air Force.