In recognition of the supreme sacrifice she paid during the March 15 Abule-Ado multiple blasts, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Thursday named a newly built 500-capacity assembly hall after the late principal of Bethlehem Girls College, Sr. Henrietta Alokha.
The service which also built a cenotaph for her by the entrance to the hall located at the 041 NAF Communications Depot, Shasha, said it found the late Alokha’s action worthy of celebration and a huge inspiration to the younger generation on selfless service.
It noted that the late principal by her action exemplified the good shepherd who put the protection and safety of her cubs well above hers, an act that deserved a place in history.
Unveiling the cenotaph and the name, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said a hall in a school where character was moulded deserved to be named after a worthy Nigerian who has distinguished his/herself in the service to humanity.
Abubakar who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Logistics Command, Air vice Marshal (AVM) Lawal Alao said Alokha’s bravery that dah saw that no child of Bethlehem Girls College died in the disaster, adding that she ensured they were all saved but her.
“I am hopeful that naming the assembly hall after Rev. Sr. Henrietta Alokha will not only be symbolic but will continually keep her memory fresh in our hearts. I am convinced that the stories of her heroic act that day will continue to remind our younger ones the values of selfless service to humanity. The sacrifice should also serve as motivation for Airmen and Air Women of the NAF who are presently deployed to various theatres of operation in our country,” he said.
At the event were the Superior General, Congregation of Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SSH), Sr. Monica Rowland, Sr. Felicitas Osunde, Director, Education Services, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Messenger Jerome Oduntan and members of Sr. Alokha’s family.
Appreciating the NAF for the gesture, Sr. Rowland hoped that her death would be a lesson for leaders to be ready to make sacrifices for the led.
She disclosed that the Catholic Church in Nigeria has set up an endowment fund in her honour.
“It is called the Sr. Henrietta Alokha Endowment Fund. This fund is to be made available for indigent children between the ages of six and 17, who are very intelligent but cannot fund their education due to financial constraints.
“This is just the first step the church is taking. We are planning to do more things to immortalise Sr. Henrietta Alokha,” she said.
Messenger Oduntan described Sr. Alokha as a quiet but forthright woman who loved those who were under her care and paid the most precious price for them.
“One can imagine the number of mothers that would have been weeping for their children but instead of them weeping, she volunteered her life.
“The school was razed down and the government told us it would not be happy for us to rebuild there because of the proximity of the school to the pipelines. So, we appealed to them that we need plots of land within that axis. This is because the mission and vision of the Catholic Church is to have schools all around, not centralised.
“Since that school was in that axis, we need another one there. They promised to get us land there. For the students, they have been distributed to our existing schools as well as members of staff,” he told reporters.