Mr Akintunde Arotile, father of the late Nigeria’ s first female combatant helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile, said he spoke with her few hours before her sudden death on Tuesday.
Arotile told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja on Wednesday that he was shocked to receive the news of her death few hours later.
“Just yesterday (July 14) at about 1 p.m., 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 told me she was in bed resting, she said she will later go out to make some photocopies.
“I told her not to be long and to return home on time because she was staying with my first daughter in Kaduna.
“Around 5.30 p.m, somebody called me and asked if I had called her today and I said yes, then the person told me to call her which I did, but no response.
“So, I called her colleagues, and they were all crying on phone, I asked what happened , they were just crying, so I called one of her bosses who told me that she is in the mortuary.
” I said ha!, Somebody I spoke with 4 hours ago and by 5 p.m. she was in the mortuary,” he explained.
According to him, he had to drive from Abuja to Lokoja to break the sad news to her mother.
” This is to enable me inform her mother physically because I could not brake such news on phone, but when I came she had gone to the prayer mountain.
” She came back around 8.30 p.m, I told her this is what I heard but that I had not confirmed,” he said.
Arotile, who retired from the Transmission Company of Nigeria in 2019, described his daughter as a brilliant and wonderful person right from when she was young.
” Right from day one, she had been very very intelligent, sometimes, I wonder what type of IQ she had.
” She also combined intelligence with hard-work. She has not just been brilliant but wonderful,” he said.
According to him, Tolulope did all her schooling in Kaduna from kindergarten to nursery at the Airforce Base and Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna.
” One day when she was very small, she pointed to one small aircraft parked on the 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 degree in Mathematics, she became an Airforce Cadet, from there, she was sent on several courses abroad and became a pilot.
” I just thank God that she was able to achieve her life dream as a baby before her death,’ he added.
The late Flight Officer, who died as a result of a motor accident at the age of 25, hailed from Ijumu Local Government, Kogi State.
She was standing by the road side at Kawo area of Kaduna when a former secondary school classmate sighted her and applied the brake.
The female old school mate was reversing her vehicle to enable her properly greet her when she mistakenly knocked her down.
The late Arotile died from the head injury she sustained from the accident.
The father said he was impressed by the outpouring of sympathy messages and support from the Nigeria Airforce and other Nigerians since the incident happened.
” There have been several visits from her bosses from all over the country, including here in Lokoja, Abuja, Kaduna, Enugu and everywhere.
“The support have been overwhelming, they even gave a token and other promises.
“They have even promised to give a choice of where to bury her, but her commandant suggested that she should be buried at the National Cemetery, Abuja, due to the feat she achieved as the first female combatant helicopter pilot in Nigeria,” he said.