The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Thursday buried the remains of late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, the Service’s first female combat helicopter pilot, at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.
Flying Officer Arotile, who died on July 14, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna,was buried with full military honours.
Arotile, a Squadron Pilot at the 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group (405 HCTG) Enugu, was attached to the Air Component of Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, having recently completed her Promotion Examinations.
She was in Kaduna awaiting deployment for her next assignment, before her demise.
Speaking at the funeral ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Sadique Abubakar said that Arotile would be greatly missed by the NAF.
Abubakar said that even at this moment the NAF was still in shock and grief because it has lost a heroine whom the Service has so much confidence in.
He noted that the NAF’s expectations were caught short as a result of her sudden demise.
The air chief who eulogised Arotile, noted that her short stay in the Service was highly impactful, as she was a committed, confident officer in her service in the North West and North Central missions.
He noted that Arotile’s demise had affected the NAF and the nation whose sovereignty she protected.
Abubakar thanked late Arotile for adding value to national security, saying the NAF and the Country would always remember her contributions to nation building.
Speaking earlier in his sermon, Group Capt. Dogo Gani, the Director Chaplaincy. Protestant Nigeria Air Force,said the death of Arotile was a difficult thing to comprehend.
He said Arotile was a young woman of passion, and courage who took up the challenges of fighting evil, “is now gone”.
Gani commended the CAS for taking up the boldness in putting resources together to realise Arotile’s dreams.
He called on political, religious leaders to raise young men and women like Arotile to defend the Country.
Speaking on behalf of the Arotile’s family, Mrs Damilola Adegboye, sister to the deceased noted that Arotile had dreamt to fly a plane as a child.
She said her sister was passionate about her job and family.
Adegboye thanked Abubakar, and the entire nation for their prayers Conde,emcee and love shown to the family since the demise of Arotile.
Present at the ceremony were the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen.Gabriel Olonisakin, the Minister of Defence Maj.- Gen. Bashir Magashi who was represented by the Permeant Secretary, of the ministry, Mr Sabi’u Zakari.
Others were the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, among other dignitaries.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the family was presented with the national colours by the air chief.
Also there the laying of wreath and the firing of volley by the Burial Party.