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Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero- Kafayat Sanni

Twenty-two years old Kafayat Sanni, a Flight Lieutenant and one of the youngest of the Nigerian Air Force pilots and the first female fighter pilot recently decorated is today’s Everyday Hero. Not only because of her age, but also her gender; breaking the male stereotype for certain occupations and feats. Her own feat has wowed many. She is the first female fighter pilot in the 55-year-old history of the Nigerian Air Force.

Kafayat: Barrier Breaker

Kafayat Sanni is Nigeria’s first female fighter pilot. She had the opportunity to be trained at the United States Air Force following an excellent performance during her initial flying training course at 401 Flying Training School in Kaduna. She emerged the overall best pilot at the NAF 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna State, in 2017, and thereafter, she was moved to the United States of America to train at the US Aviation Leadership Programme. As she grabbed the first female trophy in flying Alpha Jets and others, considering the task ahead, Kafayat said:

“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.

-Kafayat Sanni

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At the completion of her training, Kafayat was decorated alongside 12 new fighter pilots – all-male – at the NAF Headquarters in Abuja on October 15, 2019. A star among stars, the sky is the beginning as she is winged to go into any form of combat, including counter-insurgency operations.

History will have it that Kafayat Sanni is the first female that went through regular combat training at the Nigerian Defence Academy to be winged for a fixed-wing fighter aircraft.

Kafayat: Ready to Fight

Kafayat Sanni is poised on being a core part in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North East. She stated,

“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 fight against insurgency and every other thing that have been going on in our country. So I am just going to get there and play my part.”

Her fearlessness and strong will were seen by her instructor. Capt. Christy Martin, Columbus AFB international military student officer, who stated her excitement on watching Kafayat grow and thrive as the first female fighter pilot in Nigeria.

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“I think she is going to perform that title well. Kafayat has a very bubbly personality and was very positive throughout the whole entire training. Pilot training is a very stressful, strenuous course, but she has always stayed positive. I think she is very determined and very excited to go back and fly fighters in her country as well,”

Martin said.

Addressing other young potential girls aiming to be in the military, Kafayat said,

“The advice I want to emphasize 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.”


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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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