By Abdulyekeen Ibn Umar
Captain Musa Nuhu, on Monday, March 16, 2020 formally took over as the substantive Director General/Chief Executive Officer (DG/CEO) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) .
Nuhu resumed as the 7th Director General of the Authority, following his appointment on 23rd October, 2019 and eventual confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
NCAA is the regulatory body for aviation in Nigeria which became autonomous with the passing into law of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 by the National Assembly and assent of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Act not only empowers the Authority to regulate Aviation Safety without political interference, but also to carry out oversight functions of Airports, Airspace, Meteorological Services, etc as well as economic regulations of the industry.
Aviation industry on its own is a highly regulated one and that makes the CAA of any country pivotal to the safety of flight operations within and outside their airspace.
Eighteen months after resumption as the NCAA helmsman, operators in the aviation sector believe that Capt Nuhu has brought sanity into the system by raising the bar in the agency’s regulatory roles.
With the Civil Aviation Act before the National Assembly, it is hoped that, it will be passed very soon and passed into Law to further strengthen the regulatory roles of the NCAA.
Recently, unfolding events in the aviation industry has put the agency to a spotlight with a larger percentage of stakeholders scoring the current NCAA management high in terms of regulations.
For instance, operators who were able to scale through their acquisition of Air Operators Certificate (AOC), under Nuhu’s regime have attested to the fact that NCAA is up and doing in pursuing its regulations for both airlines and other stakeholders in the industry.
So far, the United Nigeria Airlines is the first baby of the current management of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). After rigorous examination by NCAA, which included test flights, the agency granted the airline an AOC, on 1 February 2021, which will be valid until 31 January 2023.
Relaying his experiences in the process of acquiring AOC, Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, High Chief Okonkwo commended NCAA for the diligence and due process adopted in issuing them their AOC.
Okonkwo said “within this period, NCAA has been very diligent in the processing of AOCs. We are happy and grateful to God that we were able to scale through this their very very strict and stringent processes. Today we are flying”.
Also speaking about the dynamics of civil aviation regulations under Capt Nuhu, renowned aviation trainer and CEO of WestLink Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia said aviation has a process which is one of the most regulated industries in the world.
Mshelia pointed out that, it is the normal thing for any aviator to readily acknowledge the industry as the most regulated, emphasising that, the industry cannot be over-regulated.
The airline operator argued that, the current regulation needs more of operators’ voices, because when the rules were made, some of them were made in a hurry to enable approvals of certain requirements.
Explaining further, Mshelia said “So, aviation in itself needs to be regulated the way it is; whether there are lacunas here and there, obviously there are.
He stated that, there is no place all over the world where you can find anybody who likes the CAA.
Meanwhile, part of Capt Nuhu’s achievement is his strictness in enforcing the rules of the game. In March this year, under the eagle eyes of the regulator, the, NCAA, pursuant to Section 35 (2) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and Part 220.127.116.11 (A) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015, suspended the operations of all the Boeing 737 Aircraft in the Fleet of Azman Air Services Limited, with effect from March 15, 2021.
The suspension which came following series of incidents involving Azman Air Boeing 737 Aircraft was to enable the Authority conduct an audit of the airline to determine the root cause(s) of the incidents, and recommend corrective actions to forestall re-occurrence.
Since then, safety compliance of virtually all the airlines has improved drastically.
On the global map, NCAA boss has within a short time resolved 5 cases on Cape Town Convention on Mobile Equipment thus creating international confidence in oversight function of NCAA
Still under Capt Nuhu’s regime, restructuring of NCAA was successfully implemented in September, 2020, by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika as part of efforts geared towards streamlining the government agencies.
Under the restructuring midwifed by Nuhu, the Consumer Protection Directorate (CPD) was merged with the Directorate of Air Transport Regulations (DATR). Also the Directorate of General Aviation (DGA) was merged with the Directorate. Also, the Directorate of Operations and Training (DOT) was merged with Licensing.
However three Directorates: Directorate of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards (DAAS), Directorate of Human Resource and Administration (DHR&A) and Directorate of Finance were retained.
With these positive changes recorded in just one year and half, of his administration, there is no doubt that Capt Nuhu is fully prepared to take Nigeria’s aviation industry to the next level and ultimately ensure safety which is the backbone of aviation worldwide.
He completed and initiated movement into NCAA Corporate Headquarters in Abuja and strengthening and equipping 5 Regional Offices nationwide to provide more efficient and friendly services closer to industry players.
The agency is in the process of acquiring EMPIC Regulatory Equipment for the automation and digitization of NCAA processes for improved and friendly services.
TRAINING AND RETRAINING
Under Capt Nuhu, NCAA is doing all within its means to ensure that there adequate training and retraining opportunities for all staff. Nuhu has domesticated Inspectors mandatory training program for more effective delivery at significant savings Already, Capt Nuhu led administration is in talks with the Ministry of Aviation, to see how NCAA can improve their workers conditions of service subject to approval of the appropriate government agency so that they can be able to attract, train and retain the core technical personnel.
In addition, the NCAA DG is planning seriously to tackle the challenge of shortage of technical personnel like safety and airworthiness inspectors to meet the growing air transport demand in the country.
DG NCAA in conjunction with NAF Chief of Air Staff established the High Level Civil – Military Cooperation Committee. First of its kind in Nigeria.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT OF FLIGHT RESUMPTION POST COVID
The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 brought lots of devastating effects in the aviation industry which is seen as most hardly hit. Obviously, it became clear that flight operations in the post Covid-19 era will not be business as usual.
When it was time for the resumption of both local and international flight operations, many countries CAA started to strategies on how to survive the pandemic.
Capt Nuhu showed its professional prowess by developing and implementing the COVID-19 industry restart program before ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART).
It is therefore, on record that Nigeria opened her airports, when a lot of countries had not done so. This made Nigeria a case study for countries looking for options on how to navigate their aviation business through the pandemic.
As a result of the difficulties some travelers to Nigeria are experiencing while trying to fill their Health and Travel history into Nigeria’s International Travel portal (NITP), Capt Nuhu, in his wisdom gave some waivers to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerian travellers.
The DG had appealed to all foreign airlines operating in and out of Nigeria not to deny Nigerians boarding for their inability to show evidence of payment for the Day-7 COVID-19 PCR test or generate paid QR code. Such categories of travellers, through NCAA directive, are now allowed to board and that has reduced the difficulties experienced by most of the travellers.
Key players in the nation’s aviation industry have given high ratings Capt Musa Nuhu, noting that he brought sanity into the system, since he resumed office 18 months ago.
Most recent accolade is the honour bestowed on Capt Nuhu as the African Leadership Magazine Award of Excellence. The award was presented by the Editor, African Leadership Magazine, Mr. Kingsley Okeke to Capt. Musa Nuhu at the Authority’s Corporate Headquarters on Thursday, 23rd September, 2021 in Abuja.