The Senate yesterday observed a minute silence in honour of the late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, the first female combat helicopter pilot of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
The red chamber also condoled with the Arotile family, NAF, Governor Yahaya Bello and the people of Kogi State.
This was sequel to a point of order raised on the floor of the Senate about her demise by the representative of the Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Smart Adeyemi.
Meanwhile, the chief of defence staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Governor Yahaya Bello, chief of the air staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and other military top brass have paid last respect to Tolulope Arotile at the Military Cemetery, Abuja.
The burial which commenced yesterday at 10.00am ended at about 11.40am with the laying of wreaths in line with military tradition.
The late Arotile was hit on July 14, 2020 by a reversing vehicle of a former classmate at the NAF Base, Kaduna and died due to severe injuries she sustained.
The late combat pilot was committed to mother earth at 11.05 am at the military cemetery during a service conducted by the director, Chaplaincy Protestant NAF (Rev.) Group Captain Dogo Gani.
The young officer’s citation was read by her coursemate, Flying Officer J.A. Chukwu.
Born on December 13, 1995 to the family of Mr and Mrs Akintunde Arotile in Kaduna, Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile, hailed from Ijumu local government area of Kogi State.
In his remarks, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique said that the young officer performed her duties in her short time both on ground and in the air with dedication and professionalism.
He said: “It’s indeed with a heavy heart and a deep sense of loss that I stand here today to welcome you all to this burial ceremony and to bear the heart of the NAF as we lay to rest the remains of a national heroine, a daughter and a highly impactful officer, the late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.”
“To the Arotile family, I know Nigerians everywhere are praying with you as you shoulder this heavy burden, may time heal you and please note that the entire nation share this grief with you. There can be no better consolation than the nation grieves with you on the loss of this shining amiable and patriotic Nigerian who paid the supreme price in the course of her service to the fatherland,” Sadique said.
The representative of the Arotile family, Mrs Damilola Adegboye, described the late young officer as a selfless person who loved to pray for family, friends and people she barely knew.
Also, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, said the sacrifices of Nigeria’s first female helicopter combat pilot were so huge that the nation cannot forget.
Bello said that Tolulope as a young female pilot, who fought for the peace of the nation both on land and in the air, died in active service at 24 years of age. He added that she remained huge inspiration for both men and women in the country and beyond.
In a statement issued by his chief press secretary, Onogwu Muhammed, the governor said that “Tolulope will be remembered as one of those who risked their lives and were willing to put service before self in order to protect the many freedoms we enjoy.”