Engineer Akintunde Arotile, Father of twenty three year old late first female combat helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile has said he is devastated by the death of his daughter because she had not just been brilliant, but also wonderful, right from birth.
Arotile who was visibly down said his late daughter had always dreamt of flying an aircraft right from when she was a child.
“I was in Kaduna. She was my fourth daughter and she had all her education at the Air Force Base and the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. One day, when she was very small, she pointed to one small aircraft, parked on a field and said, “Dad, one day I am going to fly that aircraft” and I said amen. So from that day, she started working towards that”
“She got admission to the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna. She had a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. She became an Air force cadet. She was sent on several courses abroad and became a pilot. I just thank God that she was able to achieve her dreams as a baby before her death”
Mr Arotile who betrayed emotions while while speaking to journalists at his Lokoja, Kogi State home explained Tolulope had right from day one been very intelligent so much that he sometimes, wondered the type of Intelligent Quotient she had saying she also combined intelligence with hard work.
His said “In fact, if you had been here when her bosses from Enugu came, you would think she was their daughter; the way they were eulogising her. They were proud of her achievements”
The Bereaved father of the first female combat helicopter pilot said he never knew his daughter would die shortly after speaking with her on the day she passed on.
According to Arotile, Tolulope has just returned from an operation in Katsina state and was resting when he called.
“At about1pm on the fateful day, I called her because she just came back from an operation against the bandits in Katsina. They gave them one week to rest and so she was sleeping and she told me she was in bed resting. She said she would later go out to make some photocopies and I told her not to stay long and to return home on time because she was staying with my first daughter in Kaduna. Around 5.30 pm, somebody called me and asked if I had called her and I said yes. Then the person told me to call her which I did, but there was no response. So, I called her colleagues. They were all crying on the phone. I asked what happened, but they were just crying. I called one of her bosses who told me that she was in the mortuary and I said Ha! Somebody I spoke with four hours ago and by 5 pm she was in the mortuary.
“I had to drive to Lokoja from Abuja to enable me to inform her mother physically because I could not break such news on the phone. When I got there, she had gone to the prayer mountain. She came back at 8.30pm and I told her what I heard, but had not confirmed”
Mr Arotile said this was later confirmed and the family has since then been thrown into mourning.
He however appreciated the Nigeria Airforce Personnel for their outpouring of sympathy and support since the incident occurred on Tuesday.
He said “There have been several visits from her bosses from all over the country, including here in Lokoja, Abuja, Kaduna, and Enugu. The support has been overwhelming”
“They have even promised to let us choose where to bury her, but her commandant suggested that she should be buried at the National Cemetery, Abuja because of the number of people that will attend the funeral and due to the feat she achieved as the first female combat pilot in Nigeria”