Tolulope was not just brilliant, but wonderful, says father

From day one, she had not just been brilliant, but wonderful. I was in Kaduna then, she did all her educational career; from kindergarten to the nursery, at the Air Force base and the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna. One day, when she was very small, she pointed to one small aircraft packed 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 into 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. She was my fourth born.

From day one, she had been very, very intelligent. Sometimes, I wondered what type of IQ she had. She also combined intelligence with hard-work. If you had been here when her bosses from Enugu came, you would think she was their daughter, the way they were eulogising her and being proud of her achievements.

When was your last encounter with her?

Just yesterday, at about 1 pm; 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 would later go out to make some photocopies and 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 pm, 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 the 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, and I said “What!” Somebody I spoke with four hours ago and by 5 pm she is 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, but when I came she had gone to the prayer mountain. She came back at around 8.30 am. I told her this is what I heard, but that I had not confirmed.

The reaction of the Air Force authority

I must say that I am really impressed by the outpouring of sympathy and support. There have been several visits from her bosses from all over the country, including here in Lokoja, Abuja, Kaduna, Enugu and everywhere. The support has been overwhelming.

They even gave a token and promised that later they would do something. 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, because of the number of people that will attend the funeral and due to the feat she had achieved, as the first female combatant pilot in Nigeria.

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