Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi on Wednesday mourned the death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, describing her death “as shocking, devastating and a national tragedy”.
The late flying officer Arotile, 23, died in a car accident on Tuesday in Kaduna.
She was Nigeria’s first-ever Combat Helicopter Pilot in the history of the Nigeria Air force.
In a condolence message in Lokoja signed by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Onogwu Muhammed, Bello described Arotile as not only a combat pilot, but a fantastic aviator.
He said she reached the sky of her professional calling at a very tender age of 23.
“It was with great sorrow and shock that I received the news about the passing of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, the first female combat Helicopter Pilot in the history of the Nigerian Airforce.
“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.
“This was a huge honour to her family, Kogi State, the nation and the entire women in the country and beyond,’’ Bello said.
The governor said that Arotile was a trained military aviator with a blend of professionalism and patriotism.
He said her engagement in air-to-ground combat in rooting out armed bandits and other criminal elements in the country, particularly in the North Central region was a sacrifice that could not be forgotten.
“We are devastated by the tragic death of this young promising lady who took bravery to the next level, demystified prejudicial stereotype and flew her parents, state and nation high in honour and professionalism,’’ he said.
Bello stressed that the late Arotile had woven her own story into the Nigerian folklore as a patriot who died in defence of her nation.
“On behalf of the state, I commiserate with the family of late Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss, and I pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest; she will be sorely missed,” the governor said.