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Buhari, Defence Minister mourns death of Nigeria’s first female combat pilot, Tolulope Arotile

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday expressed shock over the passing of Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, condoling with the family on the loss of such a promising officer, whose short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security.

Arotile was the first female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force.

The president also saluted Arotile’s bravery in the field to protect the country from the onslaught of bandits and terrorists, assuring that her memory will be indelible, and her efforts remembered.

Buhari commiserated with the Nigerian Air Force, airmen, airwomen and all friends of the deceased, recalling her deft skills in manoeuvring combat helicopters, which he had physically witnessed with pride.

The President, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina also sympathized with government and people of Kogi State on the loss.

Arotile who died July 14 as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna.

Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, made this known in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

“It is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died on July 14, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna.

“Until her death, ‪Flying Officer Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64, was the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Service.

“During her short but impactful stay in the Service, late Arotile, who hails from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, contributed significantly to the efforts to rid the North Central States of bandits and other criminal elements by flying several combat missions under Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State.

” The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the family of late ‪Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss.

Also, Minister of Defence Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd) said on Wednesday that he received as “shocking”, the news of the death of the Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, whose death occurred in an auto crash in Kaduna on Tuesday.

General Magashi while mourning the First Female Combat Pilot who was commissioned into the NAF in 2017 as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64 described her death as the exit of one of the finest and best national manpower asset.

He said that the deceased rendered an impactful but short service to the nation pointing out that the nation should be consoled by the maxim which says it is not how far but how well that matters in the voyage of life at personal, interpersonal and national levels.

General Magashi noted that “her death has cut short in its prime a robust aspiration and expectations of a brighter and better future of a promising career of Arotile in the nations annals of professional pilot records of service in the Nigerian Air Force’.

In a condolence message to the nation, Magashi said “we have lost a brave, gallant, courageous and patriotic Nigerian at a time when her service is needed most to upscale the tempo of Counter Terrorism and war against banditry plaguing the nation’s security architecture”.

A statement by Mohammed Abdulkadri, SA Media quoting the Minister sympathizing with President Muhammadu Buhari, Kogi State Government, the Nigerian Armed Forces especially the Nigerian Air Force family and the family of the late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile and prayed God to grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.

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