The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Thursday, June 11, 2020, immortalized a renowned educationist, scholar and former Principal of Bethlehem Girls’ College, Late Reverend Sister Henrietta Abosiogwe Alokha, who died while rescuing her students after the pipeline explosion at Abule-Ado in Lagos on 15 March 2020.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who unveiled a plaque in her honour and named the newly constructed 500-capacity Assembly Hall at the Air Force Secondary School (AFSS), NAF Base Shasha, Lagos after her, stated that Reverend Sister Alokha was being immortalized for her selfless efforts in the propagation of learning and service to humanity.
Represented by the Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command (AOC LC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Lawal Alao, the CAS noted that it was appropriate that a facility such as the Assembly Hall in an institution of learning and character development should be named after someone who had dedicated her life to educating future leaders.
According to him, “We remember her for her actions during the Abule-Ado petroleum pipeline explosion which eventually culminated in a fire incident at the Bethlehem Girls’ College. Reverend Sister Henrietta made the ultimate sacrifice on 15 March 2020, while evacuating her students from the fire caused by the explosion at the school. Her bravery on that day paid off as no student of the College was lost to the deadly incident”.
Air Marshal Abubakar remarked that he was hopeful that naming the Assembly Hall after her would not only be symbolic but would also continually keep her memory fresh in the hearts of people.
“I am convinced that the story of her heroic act on that fateful day will continue to light a path for younger generations and the ones yet to come on the value of selfless service to humanity. In addition, her sacrifice will also serve as a motivation to officers and airmen/airwomen of the NAF who are presently deployed to various theaters of operation in our country. I pray for the repose of the soul of Rev. Sister Henrietta Alokha”, he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commander 041 Communications Depot Shasha, Air Commodore Nkem Aguiyi, noted that there were similarities between Bethlehem Girls’ College and AFSS, Shasha. “They are both institutions growing future generations and should therefore serve as repositories of the intrinsic qualities demonstrated by Sister Alokha. Her name deserves a place in the sands of time as she chose to put humanity before self”, he said.
He pointed out that one of the key drivers of CAS’ Vision, which is to “promote and inculcate the core values of integrity, excellence and service delivery”, closely aligns with Rev Sister Alokha’s actions.
While expressing her profound appreciation to the NAF for the honour done to late Rev. Sister Alokha, the Superior-General of the Congregation of Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SSH), the Order to which Sister Alokha belonged, Sister Monica Rowland, said the SSH and indeed the entire Catholic Church was encouraged by the gesture as it would spur others to such selfless service.
She expressed hope that Alokha’s death would be a lesson for leaders to be ready to make sacrifices for the led.
Also present at the event were the Chief of Staff and Principal Staff Officers of Logistics Command, Commanders and Commandants of NAF Units and Schools in Lagos area, the NAF Director of Education as well as delegations from the Lagos and Benin Diocese of the Catholic Church of Nigeria and Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Congregation.