In fulfilment of its promise to honour the memory of Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot for her invaluable contributions to the fight against banditry and other criminal activities in the country, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Tuesday immortalised late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola.
According to him, “the newly renovated and remodelled Pilots’ Crew ‘Room’ at the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) Port Harcourt was named after the late officer.
“The edifice is the Pilots’ Crew Room which houses 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”
Speaking during the ceremony, which also featured the commissioning of a newly constructed Block of 18 x two-bedroom flats for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) as well as a water project, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that immortalising the deceased 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.
According to him, “It is gratifying to note that, since late Tolulope’s demise, many young Nigerian girls have indicated their interest to join the NAF. 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.”
Air Marshal Abubakar noted that immortalising the deceased officer Arotile also addressed another area of the NAF’s policy thrust which was the commitment to assure personnel that their sacrifices would never be in vain.
According to him, “the policy has been sustained through the immortalisation of personnel who paid the supreme price in service to the Nation.
“The objective has always been to acknowledge their contributions towards securing our Country while making sure that they and their sacrifices remain forever fresh in our minds and indeed in the minds of Nigerians.”
The CAS, who expressed excitement to see some of her colleagues who were at the commissioning to celebrate her memory, noted that late Flying Officer Arotile lived on in the hearts of those coming after her and encouraged more young girls to aspire for career opportunities in the NAF as he said: “there is no limit to what they can achieve.”
While expressing his happiness with the performance of the Commander as well as officers and men of the Unit, Air Marshal Abubakar stated that 115 SOG had continued to play a significant role in the NAF’s efforts at tackling insecurity in different parts of the Country.
He noted that pilots, engineers, technicians and other support staff of the Group, deployed along with their helicopter gunships, had continued to contribute their quota towards winning the fight against insurgents in the North East as well as against bandits and other criminals in the North West and North Central.
The 115 SOG, he said, had also continued to play a key role in dealing with illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism in the South-South, working in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies.
The CAS recalled that, over the years, 115 SOG had built in-house capacity and shown its capability in the conduct of the first-ever life extension maintenance on 2 x Mi 35P helicopters. Similarly, he said, the Unit, working with technical partners, was able to reactivate 3 x EC-135 helicopters locally.
While charging the aircrew and other personnel in Port Harcourt to continue working harder to deal decisively with the enemies of the Nation, the CAS urged them to utilize the new facilities and other welfare projects with a high sense of responsibility.
Air Marshal Abubakar expressed his profound gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari, for his continued support to the NAF towards the achievement of its desired Air Power goals.
He noted that the President’s overwhelming support to the Service was a testament to the fact that the whole nation stands by the NAF in the fight against all enemies of the Country. “We, therefore, pledge to remain resolute in the conduct of our operations until peace is restored to every troubled part of the country,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Tactical Air Command (TAC), Air Vice Marshal Olusegun Philip, noted that the CAS had proved beyond doubt that the welfare of NAF personnel was his topmost priority, as evidenced by his commitment to the provision of infrastructure for their comfort and optimum performance.
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