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President Buhari, Others Mourn Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s First Female Helicopter Pilot



flying officer tolulope arotile President Buhari

President Buhari, Others Mourn Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s First Female Helicopter Pilot

President Buhari and other prominent Nigerians have shown deep pain over the death of the first Nigerian Air Force female combat pilot, Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, who died on Tuesday, 14 of July.

President Buhari condoled with the family of the deceased, describing Arotile as a promising officer whose short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security.

The president, in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, saluted Arotile’s bravery in the field where she fought to protect the country from the onslaught of bandits and terrorists, assuring that her memory will be indelible, and her efforts remembered.

President Buhari, Others Mourn Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s First Female Helicopter Pilot

Tolulope Arotile Family

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

The president sympathized with the government and people of Kogi State on the loss and prayed Almighty God to receive the soul of the departed, and comfort the family she left behind.

On his part, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, expressed shock and sadness over Arotile’s tragic death.

Lawan said despite her brief service, the deceased flying officer left indelible footprints as a dedicated officer.

He noted that the late Arotile was a role model for young women and the Nigerian youths in general with her focus and dedication to service and calling.

A statement by his media adviser, Ola Awoniyi, noted that Lawan condoled with the family of the late Flying Officer, the chief of the Air Staff, her office colleagues, other airmen, and airwomen.


The Senate president also commiserated with the government and people of Kogi State over the loss and prayed for her soul to rest in perfect peace.

Also, the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, described the death as heartbreaking.

The first lady, while condoling with the family, said she received the news with a heavy heart.

Mrs. Buhari also condoled with the Nigerian Air Force and the country over what she called an irreparable loss.

According to her, “The deceased was an intelligent young woman, a huge potential, a representative of both Nigerian women and youth, and what they could achieve.”

Similarly, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed shock over the death of Arotile.

“I received with great shock the death of our country’s first female combat pilot, Tolulope Arotile. I saw her months ago display her talent to the admiration of many of us at a Nigerian Air Force event. Indeed we have lost a great talent,” he said.

Chairman of the House Committee on Air Force, Hon Shehu Koko described Arotile as a heroine whose contribution in the war against terrorism and other criminal elements in the country cannot be wished away easily.

The Federal Executive Council also extended heartfelt condolences to President Buhari, the Chief of Air Staff, the Arotile family, and people of Ife Community in ljumu local government area, Kogi State on the untimely death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.

According to a statement by the media officer of the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile was a promising and dedicated Officer.

The SGF, Boss Mustapha, on behalf of the council said, “We pray Almighty God to console her family and friends as well as grant her gentle soul eternal repose.”

On his part, Kogi State deputy governor, Edward Onoja described Arotile’s death as a great loss to the nation and Kogi State and prayed that God would console the family and people of the Kogi State for the great loss.

“I am consoled by the truth that life’s impact is not measured by the number of days, but how well and impactful we lived the day allotted. You inspire me Omo Okun. Sun reee,” he said.

The father of the deceased, Engineer Akintude Arotile, in his reaction to the unfortunate incident said, “We have to accept this as an act of God. There is virtually nothing anyone can do, that is God’s time. Of course, for every mortal under the sun, that’s the path we shall all follow.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force announced yesterday that Arotile was hit by a reversing car of an excited former class mate.

The director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, who disclosed this in a statement, said the young officer died to head injuries sustained in the accident.

The director explained: “Arotile died on 14 July 2020 at the age of 24, when she was inadvertently hit by the reversing vehicle of an excited former Air Force Secondary School classmate while trying to greet her.

“Before her untimely death, Flying Officer Arotile made significant and outstanding contributions to the war against terrorism, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the country, flying several combat missions.

In his condolence message, the chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf officers, airmen, airwomen, and civilian staff of the NAF, condoled with the family of the late Officer.

He said, “It is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died today, 14 July 2020, 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.”

Air Marshal Abubakar, in a tweet, described the young officer as disciplined, confident, intelligent, and courageous.

“I was heartbroken when I received the sad news of the death. I recall meeting her at the Minna Airport, while on an operational visit, after one of such missions, and seeing her eagerness to contribute towards the restoration of lasting peace to the affected areas. Her death is a huge loss to @NigAirForce family & indeed the entire nation.”

Flying Officer Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile was born on 13 December 1995 to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Akintunde Arotile in Kaduna. She hails from the Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.

She attended Air Force Primary School, Kaduna from 2000 – 2005 and Air Force Secondary School, Kaduna from 2006 – 2011 before she later gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna as a member of 64 Regular Course on 22 September 2012.

Flying Officer Arotile who was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer on September 16, 2017, holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the Nigerian Defence Academy.

The late Flying Officer was winged as the first-ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force on 15 October 2019, after completing her flying training in South Africa.

She holds a commercial pilot license and also underwent tactical flying training on the Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter in Italy.

Incidentally, she introduced the newly acquired Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter to President Muhammadu Buhari, during the induction ceremony at Eagle Square in Abuja on 6 February 2020.

Tolulope Arotile joined the Nigerian Air Force out of a passion for the job. Speaking during her winging ceremony she said “I joined the military simply out of a passion for it. Being military personnel has been a long time ambition, the carriage, and what it stands for are simply exceptional.”

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