In recognition of her contributions to the fight against banditry and other forms of criminality in the Country as well as the inspiration she provided for young girls to achieve their dreams, the ‘I Choose Life’ Foundation (ICLF), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), in partnership with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), has honoured Late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, the first female combat helicopter pilot in the NAF, with 2 comic books tagged “Heroes Series”. The 2 books, “LOOK MUM, I CAN FLY!” and “GIRLS CAN FLY - A TRIBUTE TO TOLULOPE AROTILE”, written by Chi Dika and produced by ICLF, were launched and dedicated to honour her memory. The comic books are targeted at young Nigerians from ages 3 - 13. The colourful ceremony, which was held today, 2 October 2020, at the Fraser Suites, Abuja had 3 Ministers of the Federal Republic, the Honourable Ministers of; Youths and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare; Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen as well as Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in attendance. Also present were the parents of the late Officer, Engineer and Mrs Akintunde Arotile.
Speaking during the dedication of the 2 books, the Chief Host, the Honourable Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare, described Late Tolulope as a flower that came at her appointed time, blossomed for a season and was no more. He said she would forever remain in the hearts of Nigerians. According to him, there is the need for youths to discover their talents and skills as well as acquire the requisite knowledge to excel as there is no shortcut to success. “Thousands of Nigerian youths are doing sterling and decent things like the Late Arotile did”, he said.
In her remarks, the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, while describing her as a star, recalled how the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, gave her the opportunity to decorate the late Tolulope with her wings on 15 October 2019. According to her, “it took me over a month to stop crying as it is not easy to lose a trailblazer, a role model, very courageous, resilient, rugged and, a heroine, even in death”. She said all other young female officers she was grooming are clear testimonies that she still lives on. She prayed for God to raise brave, young female officers that would step into her shoes.
The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alahji Lai Mohammed, noted that the late Arotile achieved within the short span of her life what others could not achieve in many years. While condoling with the Arotile family, the Minister encouraged the youths not to give up on their dreams.
While presenting the “Heroes Book Series”, the CAS, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, stated that few stories celebrating men and women of valour who had sacrificed their lives in the line of duty ever get told. Against this backdrop, the CAS disclosed that the NAF was committed to changing the narrative and had, in partnership with Nollywood, put together a feature film titled, “Eagle Wings”. The movie, he noted, would change the perception of Nigerians on Military heroes and would be available in cinemas soon. Speaking further, the CAS noted that the NAF was devastated by the tragic and untimely death of Tolulope on 14 July 2020. “It is however gratifying that since her demise, many young Nigerian girls have personally requested to be recruited into the Air Force. Besides these, no fewer than 12 other female officers, who have undoubtedly been motivated by Tolulope’s inspirational life, are currently undergoing flying training, both within and outside the Country, to become NAF pilots”, he said.
Air Marshal Abubakar further stated that the NAF has a long standing tradition of immortalizing its fallen heroes, which had further been prioritized under the current Administration. In keeping with this tradition, the CAS said, the NAF, on 22 September 2020, named the newly renovated and remodeled Pilot’s Crew Room Building at the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG), Port Harcourt, after late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile. He said 2 newly constructed Blocks of 4 x 2 Bedroom Married Officers’ Accommodation at the NAF Base, Bill Clinton Drive, Abuja were similarly named in her honour on 30 September 2020. “It is our hope that this comic series will encourage young Nigerians to make choices that will benefit them, their family, and the Nation. It will especially do a lot of good for the girl child, who, like Arotile, will be motivated to study, work hard, and unreservedly pursue their dreams and legitimate aspirations”, he said.