Kafayat Sanni made history on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, when she became the first female fighter pilot in the 55-year-old history of the Nigerian Air Force. After emerging as the overall best pilot at the NAF 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna State, in 2017, she was sent to the United States of America to train at the US Aviation Leadership Programme. Upon the completion of the programme, Sanni is back and was decorated alongside 12 new fighter pilots at the NAF Headquarters, Abuja, on Tuesday.
As she grabbed the first female trophy in flying Alpha Jets and others, her colleague, Tolulope Arotile, also trained at the Starlite International Training Academy, South Africa for 14 months, to become the first female combat helicopter pilot. After a decoration ceremony attended by the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, the females, alongside their male counterparts will soon be deployed to the North-East to join in the Boko Haram counter-insurgency operation and other internal security operations across the country. Sanni speaks to OLALEYE ALUKO in a brief interview after her decoration.
How do you feel to have achieved this feat in the air force?
It is a privilege for me to be winged as the first female fighter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force.
My appreciation first goes to the Almighty God for making this possible for me. It also goes to the Chief of the Air Staff for giving me the opportunity and for making this possible.
How will this enhance your contributions to the counter-insurgency operation?
It will motivate me of course. There are other pilots there in the fronts and they are playing their part. They have been doing their best. So I am also just going to join my male counterparts in the insurgency fight and every other thing that have been going on in our country. So I am just going to get there and play my part.
How would you cope as a female officer considering that you have a big role to play ahead?
I was just lucky to be chosen. It was also my choice. It was what I wanted to do. And I felt that everyone is not supposed to fold their arms and watch what is happening in our country. Everyone could always play their part. So I did not think there was any reason for me to think that it is not possible for me to actually fly the jet because there was no female that ever flew the jet. I believe I could achieve it and I did.
What advice do you have for younger girls who would like to take after you in military feats?
The advice I want to emphasise to them is that they should never say no to opportunities. They should always strive to be the best and put in their efforts. They should never look at anything that seems to want to overpower or overshadow them. For me, you can always attempt things and if they do not work out well; fine. But at every point in time, you just need to put in your best.