Tolulope Arotile: The dashed hopes of a high-flying Nigerian youth

By Victor Akuma

Mae West once said; “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

The death of Tolulope Arotile, the first Nigerian female combat helicopter pilot could be attributed to a life well lived even though cut short at an early age of 24..

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July 14, 2020 is probably going to be one of the days the Arotile family and of course Nigerians will never pray to come by again.

It was indeed a sad Tuesday when the news of a certain Tolulope Arotile’s death broke the internet. The 24-year-old was said to have died from complications related to head injuries when she was inadvertently hit by the reversing vehicle of an excited former Air Force secondary school classmate while trying to greet her.

In this article, Crispng gathered some heights attained by young Tolulope, the outcome of some of the investigations regarding to her death and what the youth should learn from her.

Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile was born in Kaduna on 13th December, 1995 to the family of Mr and Mrs Akintunde. Tolu attended the Air Force Primary School, Kaduna, from 2000 to 2005, and the Air Force Secondary School, Kaduna, from 2006 to 2011.

In September 22nd, 2012, she gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, as a member of 64 Regular Course.

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Five years later, Tolu was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a pilot officer on 16th September, 2017.

Until her death, Tolu held a degree in Bachelor of Science (mathematics) from the Nigerian Defence Academy. On 15th October 2019, she was winged as the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force after completing her flying training in South Africa.

Two years into her career as a combat pilot, Tolu broke a record as the first female combat pilot to have acquired 460 hours of flight in helicopter, a feet rarely achievable by the male folks in the Nigerian airforce.

Tolu had shown her prowess in a number of physical air combats with the Boko Haram sect which was laud by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Tolu gave up the ghost on 14th July, 2020 at the age of 24.

However, because of the questionable means of her death, the Nigerian populace have raised doubts as regards the truthfulness of the news of her death as reported by the traditional media.

While some are being skeptical on how both friends who saw each other and were coming to exchange pleasantries could get involved in an accident, others sense there’s more to the story than meets the eye as they argue it is near impossible for an accident of such magnitude to occur around the Kaduna airforce base where traffic is greatly controlled.

Some other polls are saying that there is no way an accident could occur at such popular road with no visual clips by any Nigerian as there exist no clips of the accident online.

It was also rumored that Tolu might have stepped on some toes because of her hard work which has taken her to heights beyond her superiors in the force. Recall the Nigeria Airforce once said it has spent quite a lot training Tolu outside the shores of the country.

In all these cacophony, the Nigerian Air force (NAF) Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola according to Saharareporters have arrested two suspects over Tolu’s death.

Ibikunle, however, said that Tolu would be buried on Thursday, July 23, at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja, in full military honours.

He also stated that NAF would continue to support female pilots’ training as 11 were currently undergoing training within and outside Nigeria.

Tolu’s sudden death then suffice it to say that the disparaging claws of death knows no bound, as it cares less of age or status hence the need for youths to make the most of their youthful age as nothing is really guaranteed, not even the next minute.

Tolu had her chance and quite utilized it that the whole country is talking about her in a positive light today, even after her death.

Becoming Nigeria’s first female combat pilot is quite a bold step of her to have taken when other ladies shied away from it probably because they felt they can’t do it.

If Tolu was able to break this new ground with so much passion, any other youth out there with the right focus can do same in his or her choice of career.

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