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I approved female combatants so people like Arotile could excel, says Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan says his administration approved the training of female officers as combatants to enable them excel in their careers.

Jonathan made the statement in his tribute to Tolulope Arotile, the first female combat helicopter pilot of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), who died in a freak accident on July 15.

In 2011, the former president had ordered that females interested in becoming combatant officers for the Nigerian armed forces should be admitted into the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA).

Jonathan expressed sadness that Arotile died in her prime, describing her as brave officer who made her nation proud.

“In 2011 when my administration introduced females into the Nigeria Defence Academy to train as combatants, for the first time, it was to give equal opportunities to all men and women of the armed forces and encourage highly driven female officers like Tolulope to excel in her chosen career, irrespective of their gender,” Jonathan wrote in a social media post.

“I feel sad that such a young gallant officer would die at the prime of her life. I am however encouraged by the fact that she stood out as a pleasing fulfillment of our dream of an all-embracing Nigeria armed forces devoid of discrimination.

“She was a brave patriot who pushed her self beyond limits to demonstrate her uncommon love for our dear nation. In the process, she made us all proud.

“By dedicating her young life to protect and defend Nigeria’s strength, honour and unity, her memory and legacy will continue to serve as a great inspiration to our youth especially our girls.”

Arotile, who was 24 years old, was buried in Abuja on Thursday.

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