BY SAM ADUROGBOYE
Permit me to start this conversation with a reference to the statement credited to Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most iconic leaders who ever lived.
While this is in no way an attempt to make comparisons, Gandhi’s timeless words and his calm, peaceful approach to tackling some of the world’s most intractable problems fit perfectly into the style of the Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, the director general and chief executive officer, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
A quiet revolution has been going on in Nigeria’s civil aviation sector, and it has the unmistakable fingerprints of the team player and a leader par excellence, Captain Nuhu. Great things are happening but they are happening gently, almost noiselessly.
Which is quite alright because the regulatory side of aviation is a rather conservative and reserved business; it thrives better where there is no noise.
In fact, it is safe to say that Gandhi could as well have been referring to Captain Nuhu. Shortly after Captain Nuhu’s assumption of office on 16th of March, 2020, the world was struck with COVID -19, which prompted a total global lockdown. But this was to bring out the best in him; the deadly pandemic elicited his innate leadership qualities.
He swung into action and the NCAA became the first Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to invent COVID–19 Health Protocols and other Guidance Materials ahead of all other CAAs, including the global aviation umpire, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The protocols came in the form of accurately timed and well considered circulars. Among them: ‘Targeted Exemption from certain Regulatory Requirements due to COVID–19 pandemic: Flight Crew Proficiency; Exemptions from certain Regulatory Requirements due to COVID–19 Pandemic: Flight Crew Recent Experience and proficiency; Post COVID–19 Lockdown Approved Training Organisation (ATO) Restart Plan; Revised Provisional Quarantine Protocol for Travellers Arriving or Departing Nigeria; Exemption Documents, etc.
This eventually earned the director general and the NCAA global commendations and awards, notably from the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC).
Numerous awards from other reputable organisations also followed.
The NCAA was able to accomplish all these at a time when some organisations, both private and public, were downsizing, while others were placing their staffers on half salaries. NCAA paid its employees fully and as at when due all through the lockdown owing to the frugality and savings made by his predecessor.
Captain Nuhu is also reputed for his equitable management of the Authority’s scarce resources within the period of his watch. It is on record that under his watch the NCAA provided the needed leadership and the rallying point for the industry stakeholders during the lockdown period.
This, he did, by organising a series of virtual meetings to aggregate thoughts, opinions and ideas on what was being done, what was to be done and the way forward. No one was left out. Everybody’s opinions counted. Stakeholders who attended those meetings applauded him for his capacity to listen to a wide range of opinions and suggestions, but also for his firmness, especially with regards to safety issues.
All these activities were backed by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika. He personally attended some of the meetings, made vital contributions and also offered policy direction during that very challenging moment for the industry.
The restart of the industry after the lockdown became an easy task for the stakeholders as they were all on the same page.
Nigeria is a Category 1 nation, meaning we are among what a one-time director general termed, “the Premier League of nations”, with sound safety records. It is not a mean task that this has been sustained over the years at a time others are losing theirs.
But quite a number of factors have combined to work in favour of the NCAA.
Firstly, God has been in total control. Then followed by hard work, training and re-training of personnel. There is also the recruitment of qualified, skilled, and experienced hands in our Inspectorate Divisions, which constitute the livewire of any aviation regulatory organisation.
The quest to attract and retain qualified personnel in sufficient numbers made the director general go all out seeking enhanced and competitive salary packages for deserving personnel of NCAA from the approving authorities.
In between, he supervised the relocation of NCAA corporate headquarters from Lagos to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. This was made possible through the completion of the new office complex right at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The new arrangement means that Aviation House is now the Regional Office, Lagos.
Captain Nuhu believes that the regional offices are an integral and crucial part of the Authority.
Recently, during a meeting with workers, he unfolded his team’s plans to strengthen the regional offices in Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Abuja for effective oversight coverage of the entire country.
All of these attainments, which he has always ascribed to team work, are beginning to attract recognition from around the world. On one occasion, a medium captioned it, “Nuhu in Harvest of Awards.’’ So it has indeed been the Harvest of Awards.
Now, the director general has brought the NCAA back to the Global Aviation Centre Stage through the hosting of the 7th African Indian Ocean (AFI) Regional Meeting that took place in Abuja from 16th to 20th May, 2022.
This was a gathering of titans in the industry, including ICAO secretary general; director-generals of Civil Aviation Authorities from African Countries, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Association of African Aviation Training Organisations (AATO), Airlines, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Aviation Journalists and other allied technical personnel.
The meeting was declared open by Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation on Monday 16th of May, 2022. Captain Nuhu warmly welcomed the guests, while Juan Carlos Salazar, secretary-general, International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), delivered a strong goodwill message.
The meeting immediately broke into technical sessions that were closed to the public.
In the course of the discussions, reports from various committees and groups were considered, reviewed and a final outcome came out by Friday of that week, and it was adopted.
This final outcome is tailored towards charting a new course of action for the enhancement of the safety of Air Navigation in the African continent and the world as a whole.
On the whole, NCAA can be adjudged to be looking up, and Captain Nuhu is leading to make it better.