The Nigerian Air Force has immortalised late Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, by naming the renovated and remodelled pilots’ crew room at the 115 Special Operations Group, Port Harcourt, after her.
The pilot, 24, died on July 14, 2020, after she was knocked down by an SUV driven by her former classmate at the NAF Base in Kaduna.
The NAF in a statement by its spokesman, Comm. Ibikunle Daramola, said the crew room housed 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 several restrooms.
The statement titled, ‘NAF immortalises first combat pilot, late flying officer Tolulope Arotile,’ said the facility also featured a newly constructed block of 18 two-bedroom flats for senior non-commissioned officers as well as a water project.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, declared that immortalising the late flying officer 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.”
He said, “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.”
Abubakar explained that immortalizing 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.
A House of Reps member, Taiwo Oluga, had earlier called for the immortalisation of Arotile by renaming a befitting Air Force structure in her name. She also called for her posthumous promotion to the next rank.
The lawmaker expressed dismay over how Arotile was said to have died, describing it as “a waste of a life that was a shining light to Nigerians.”
Oluga noted that the late pilot was determined, competent, level-headed and a national hero.