Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says in honour of the late first female combat pilot in Nigeria, Tolulope Arotile, it has concluded plans, in partnership with the Nigerian film industry, to immortalise the fallen hero. The Force also presented to members of the public an animated storybook to encourage young people to take up careers in military aviation, with the book series titled, “Mom I Can Fly.” Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this at the weekend in Abuja, during an event, “My Nigerian Dream”, organised to commemorate the country’s 60th Independence anniversary. It was organised by I Choose Life Foundation.
NAF said the film titled, “Eagles Wings”, which would be made available in cinemas, would encourage Nigerian youths to appreciate their heroes. It noted that many youths had the tendency to celebrate the heroes of other countries, while ignoring their own.
Abubakar said after the death of the 24 years old Arotile, many young girls had indicated interest to join the force.
Represented by Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, the Air Force chief added that Arotile’s dexterity had encouraged not less than 12 female officers to accept to undergo trainings locally and internationally to be flying officers.
According to him, “This is a very special day for the Nigerian Air Force as one of our finest will be honoured and immortalised. Sadly, this is also celebrating men and women, who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Since ironically, most Nigerian youths know about the fallen heroes of other countries, as against those of their own, we are committed to change this perspective and, in partnership with Nollywood, we have put together a film titled: ‘Eagles Wings’ and this will be available in cinemas.
“Under my leadership, the Air Force men and women have displayed exceptional gallantry, despite the challenges going by insurgency, armed banditry and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been devastated by the tragic passing of our gallant officer, Tolulope Arotile. As a result of her death, many Nigerian girls have shown interest to be recruited into the Nigerian air force.”
In his speech at the occasion, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, said opportunities abounded for the youth, but what they lacked was exceptional skills, especially in the field of technology. Dare said the COVID-19 pandemic had not only unravelled the deficiencies in the technological knowhow of Nigerian youths, but also those of the entire continent. He said the youths needed to rediscover themselves and upgrade in digital skills, reiterating that there is no such thing as overnight success.
The minister said, “Youths must go online and find opportunities, as they are always there. You need to seek grants to develop your skills. The COVID-19 pandemic proved that digital skills gap is not just a Nigerian thing but affects the whole of Africa. Youths must be trained to develop digital skills in order to be employable.”