This could be welcomed with mixed feelings; on a negative side, it could be asked, ‘what took the army so long to produce one?’ on a positive note, it could be received with undertones of ‘Finally! We have a female combatant pilot’. As the saying goes, ‘better late than never’.
The first perspective of the delay in such an acclaim, could be closely linked to the gender roles assigned within the African continent; Women should stay in the home, taking care of the house and their families. At most, take jobs that aren’t to tasking, demanding or too risky. Be that as it may, there is always an exception to every rule; or most rules. Someone to create a path, someone to blaze the trail. In this case, we have Blessing Liman. Or let us put it another way, Nigeria’s First Female Military Pilot; Blessing Liman.
Born 13 March 1984, Blessing Liman is of a different sort; a lioness that treads with lions; almost like a Doe that is Buck-wild. The outlook might be feminine, but the disposition has no gender. The name Blessing signifies the person and the persona; not just to the army, not only to the woman folk, but to Nigeria and beyond.
A descendant of Zangon Kataf local government area of Kaduna State, Northern Nigeria. Blessing Liman is an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology. She was enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force in July 2011 and was commissioned on 9 December 2011. The Historic moment came on the 27th April 2012, a day she was decorated with the badge at the winging ceremony, confirming her to be Nigeria’s first female combat pilot. This was alongside thirty other flying officers by the then Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar, who described her training as a ‘very laudable achievement’. Her year group was the SP-24A set of pilots; a group that was regarded and referred to as the Knights of the Air. In total, there were 126 others who finished the Direct Short Service Course 2010/2011 Cadets of the 325 Ground Training Group at the Nigerian Air Force Base.
Blessing Liman brings a copulative pride; to a generation but much more, to herself. As regarding the historic moment she says, “It is very uplifting and I feel very proud of myself though it has been very challenging. Coming from the civil war and the civil mentality, the Air Force has done a great job because it has changed our orientation. I believe that all females have equal opportunity to dignify their rights in whatever adventure they choose they can do.” She further adds that in order to ensure her success, she will engage the tripod of prayers, dedication and hard work.
The legacy she wants to leave when all is said and done is simple. She states, “As a first female pilot I would want to make a mark that would encourage other females to join the military because I believe that all females have equal opportunity to exercise their rights in whatever they choose to do, I believe that all female Nigerians who choose to become pilots can do it since I have done it.”
The very best wishes to Nigeria’s First Female Combat Pilot; Blessing Liman!
Featured image source: HowNg