By Olawale Ibrahim, Lokoja
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has mourned the death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, describing it as shocking, devastating and a national tragedy.
Flying Officer Arotile died in a freak car accident in Kaduna. She was Nigeria’s first-ever Combat Helicopter Pilot in the history of the Nigerian Air force.
The governor’s message was contained in a condolence statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Onogwu Muhammed.
Bello described Arotile as not only a combat pilot but a fantastic Aviator who reached the sky in 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 and state, the nation, and the entire women in the country and beyond.
“As a trained military aviator, with a blend of professionalism and patriotism, Arotile’s 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 cannot be forgotten” the governor said.
“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 added.
While extolling the virtue of the late young Flying Officer, Bello stated “at the age of 23, late Arotile has 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 grant her soul eternal rest, She will be sorely missed,” the governor added.