Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has penned a moving tribute to Nigeria’s first female helicopter combat pilot, Tolulope Arotile, who was buried today at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja.
Jonathan, who expressed sadness over the death of the Air Force officer, noted that when his administration introduced females into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) it was to ensure officers like Arotile contribute their quota to the country.
The former president extolled the virtues of the late officer, hailing her as a brave officer that demonstrated her love for Nigeria.
Jonathan’s tribute read in part:
‘My heart goes out to the family and colleagues of late flying officer, Tolulope Arotile.
‘She was a brave patriot who pushed her self beyond limits to demonstrate her uncommon love for our dear nation. In the process, she made us all proud.
‘In 2011 when my administration introduced females into the Nigeria Defence Academy to train as combatants, for the first time, it was to give equal opportunities to all men and women of the armed forces and encourage highly driven female officers like Tolulope to excel in her chosen career, irrespective of their gender.
‘I feel sad that such a young gallant officer would die at the prime of her life. I am however encouraged by the fact that she stood out as a pleasing fulfilment of our dream of an all-embracing Nigeria armed forces devoid of discrimination.
‘By dedicating her young life to protect and defend Nigeria’s strength, honour and unity, her memory and legacy will continue to serve as a great inspiration to our youth especially our girls.
‘May God grant her soul eternal rest.’