By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday expressed sadness over the sudden demise of Nigeria’s first ever female helicopter combat pilot, Tolulope Arotile.
Chairman of the House committee on Airforce, Shehu Koko described Arotile as a heroine whose contribution in the war against terrorism and other criminal elements in the country cannot be wished away easily.
According to Shehu (APC: Kebbi), “It is with great sadness that I learned today of flying Officer Tolulope Arotile passing. Arotile overcame incredible obstacles to devote her life to service—service to the nation, to the Nigeria Airforce, the women, and indeed all the people of Nigeria.
“Arotile was a warm and devoted young woman and I send my condolences to her family. She worked tirelessly as a fighter pilot. She forged new ground for women in Nigeria helping to reinforce the saying that whatever men can do, women even do better. And, she found her true passion as a pilot , indeed as the first female fighter pilot in the country. She will be sorely missed even though she left her footprints in the sands of time.”
The Committee chief thereby prayed the Almighty God to grant Arotile soul eternal rest. In addition the committee is condolling The immediate family and Chief of Air-staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique, Air men and Air women of the service.
The Kogi born fighter pilot died as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base in Kaduna State
Arotile died barely a year after she was winged as a combat helicopter pilot in the Air Force following the completion of her course in South Africa.
Arotile contributed significantly to the efforts to rid the North Central States of armed bandits and other criminal elements by flying several combat missions under Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State.
Arotile was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64 and later became first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the service in Nigeria.