3 Women Who Achieved The Unprecedented In The Nigerian Air Force
Prior to 2012, in the history of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), no female had been winged in its flight programmes.
However, that changed when a directive came from then-President, Goodluck Jonathan, for the inclusion of women in the training programmes. Since then, a whole lot has changed in terms of gender inclusion in the Nigerian Air Force.
In this article, we highlight 3 women that achieved the unprecedented in the Nigerian Air Force.
Blessing Liman – Pilot (Non-combat)
Blessing Liman is an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology. In July 2011, she enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force and was commissioned on 9 December 2011.
On 27 April 2012, she made history by becoming Nigeria’s first female (non-combat) pilot. This happened when she was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) as a Flying Officer, alongside 126 Direct Short Service Course 20\2011 Cadets of 325 Ground Training Group in Kaduna.
She was part of winged officers at the badge decoration ceremony of thirty flying officers by Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar. Liman was 28 years old at the time of her badge decoration.
Kafayat Sanni – fighter jet pilot (combatant)
Kafayat Sanni made history on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. This happened when she was winged to become the first female fighter jet (combat) pilot in the 55-year-old history of the Nigerian Air Force.
Lieutenant Kafayat Sanni, after emerging as the overall best pilot at the NAF 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna State, in 2017, was sent to the United States of America to train at the US Aviation Leadership Programme.
Upon completion, Sanni returned to Nigeria where she alongside 12 new fighter pilots were decorated pilots at the NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
Tolulope Arotile – combat helicopter pilot
On October 15, 2019, the NAF winged its first female combat helicopter pilot Lieutenant Tolulope Arotile. The 22-year old Arotile, alongside Kafayat Sanni, were the two female pilots among thirteen other pilots also winged.
Tolulope Arotile is a B.Sc in Mathematics graduate. She was trained at the Starlite International Training Academy, South Africa for 14 months, to become the first female combat helicopter pilot.
After a decoration ceremony, the winged officers were deployed to the North-East. They were to join in the Boko Haram counter-insurgency operation and other internal security operations across the country.