By Kingsley Nwezeh
In fulfillment of its promise to honour the memory of Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot for her contributions to the fight against armed banditry and insurgency in the country, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday immortalised the late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.
The newly renovated and remodeled Pilots’ Crew ‘Room’ at the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG), Port Harcourt, Rivers State was named after the late officer who died on July 14, 2020, at 24.
The Pilots’ Crew Room houses an Operations briefing room, computer room/library, pilots’ life-support room and lounge as well as a kitchen, dining room, changing room for pilots on standby, and many rest rooms.
A NAF statement said the facility was provided to ensure a conducive environment, which would enable pilots to more effectively plan and execute assigned missions.
Speaking during the ceremony, which also featured the commissioning of a newly constructed Block of 18 x two-bedroom flats for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) as well as a water project, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that immortalising the late Flying Officer Arotile was done not only to honour her memory but also to further inspire young girls in Nigeria to study, work hard, and pursue their dreams and legitimate aspirations with pride and honour.
“It is gratifying to note that since late Tolulope’s demise, many young Nigerian girls have indicated their interest to join the NAF. Besides, no fewer than 12 other female officers, who have undoubtedly been motivated by her inspirational life and the unprecedented and exemplary contributions by other female and male pilots are currently undergoing flying training, both within and outside the country to become NAF pilots”, the CAS said.
Abubakar noted that immortalising the late Flying Officer Arotile also addressed another area of the NAF’s policy thrust, which is the commitment to assure personnel that their sacrifices would never be in vain.
In his welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Tactical Air Command (TAC), Air Vice Marshal Olusegun Philip, noted that the CAS had proved beyond doubt that the welfare of NAF personnel was his topmost priority as evidenced by his commitment to the provision of infrastructure for their comfort and optimum performance.