Management of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has taken practical steps towards stemming tide of rising cyber security threats which have now become prevalent across some targeted sectors.

                The move was made manifest at the five-day ICT Cyber Security Policy Stakeholders' Retreat/ Engagement organized in collaboration with the Consultancy Support Services (CS2). The event took place between Sunday, 30th April and Friday, 5th May, 2023 at Zuma Rock Resort in Abuja.

                While delivering his keynote address on the topic of "The Nigerian Aviation Ecosystem We Want: Transformation and Policy Coherence in the NCAA as the Driver," the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Captain Musa Nuhu stated that adopting a comprehensive ICT cyber security policy will frontally tackle prevailing challenges in this era of rapid technological advancement, digitalization, and cyber security consciousness. Hence, desire for a prosperous, secure, and innovative Nigerian aviation ecosystem is more relevant than ever.

                As Nigeria stands at the cusp of a new age in aviation, the NCAA helmsman affirmed that the Authority has kick started the journey of transformation by boldly taking the initiative to digitally transform which is not just about integrating new technologies into its operations but also reshaping the way we think, the way we work, and the way we engage with the aviation ecosystem.

While highlighting these transformation aspirations which is expected to soon favourably benchmark the NCAA with such world's leading aviation authorities in the ilk of Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

                According to Captain Musa, central to NCAA transformation initiative is the implementation of advanced ICT solutions, and to this end, the Authority have been leveraging systems such as EMPIC, which have brought about a significant enhancement in the oversight of aviation safety processes. These digital tools are not just to empower the NCAA but also to reshape the aviation landscape, enable transparency, efficiency, and effective decision-making like never before.

                He, however, cautioned that as we embrace these digital tools, we must also grapple with the reality of an ever-evolving cyber threat landscape which is the decisive point that the role of the NCAA as the driver of policy coherence comes into play. According to him, NCAA ICT and cyber security policies, consisting of more than 300 policies, guides, and templates, form the heart of our digital transformation which offer a comprehensive framework for the secure, responsible, and effective use of digital technologies, aligning with international best practices and regulatory standards.

                ''Moreover, we are not just creating policies; we are actively ensuring their implementation across all layers of our organization. This is where our initiative to engage stakeholders and form a core group of digital transformation ambassadors comes into play. These ambassadors will serve as catalysts for change, driving the adoption of digital technologies, and promoting a culture of cyber security awareness and compliance within the NCAA.

                ''As we chart this course, we are cognizant of the risks and challenges that accompany digital transformation. We are committed to mitigating these risks through a combination of comprehensive training, robust cyber security measures, and a carefully planned, phased transition.

                ''This vision of transformation and policy coherence isn't just about the NCAA; it's about the entire Nigerian aviation ecosystem. We want an ecosystem that is resilient, innovative, and competitive. An ecosystem that leverages digital technologies to enhance service delivery, improves safety, and facilitates growth. And most importantly, an ecosystem that offers an enabling environment for all stakeholders, from airlines and service providers to passengers and the public.

                ''This, ladies, and gentlemen, is the Nigerian aviation ecosystem we want. It's an ambitious vision, but with our ongoing digital transformation and policy coherence, we are well on our way to making it a reality. As we embark on this journey, we are reminded of the African proverb, 'If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together'. We are committed to going far, and we invite you all to join us on this exciting journey towards a transformed, secure, and prosperous Nigerian aviation ecosystem," he said.

                Therefore, to successfully drive transformation within the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the management team must commit to strategic vision, leadership alignment, resource allocation, culture change, skills and capabilities, stakeholder engagement, risk management, technology adoption, continuous improvement, measuring success, transparency and sustainability.  

                These commitments, when upheld, will provide a solid foundation for a successful transformation within the NCAA. But for the Authority to successfully undergo a transformation, its staff members must be ready to embrace change, continuously learn, collaborate, actively participate, adhere to new policies, promote positive culture, take responsibility, be security conscious, be ready to align with the vision and be customer-centric.

                In closing, Captain Musa Nuhu urged participants and other stakeholders alike not to lose sight of the vital role each play in transforming the NCAA and by extension, the entire Nigerian aviation sector in the course of this grand undertaking. According to him, the journey of transformation is not just about upgrading systems, processes or even our individual skills but about reinventing stakeholders' collective identity, about stepping into a new era of operational excellence, technological leadership, and world-class service delivery.

                Captain Musa admonished stakeholders not to rest on their oars as transformation is not an event but a journey with mix-bag laden with challenges on the one hand and on the other hand, victories. It is a journey of learning, growth, and continuous improvement. It is a journey that demands our utmost commitment, resilience and unity.

                While pledging NCAA management's resolve to provide the necessary resources, clear direction, and unwavering support, he solicited for support of every stakeholder to join the Authority on the journey of transformation as NCAA cannot do this alone. It requires dedication, ideas, self-development, team spirit, and hard work that will turn NCAA's vision of a digitally empowered, globally competitive Authority that safeguards the nation's skies and the entire aviation ecosystem in good stead vis-à-vis security and efficiency while providing excellent service to stakeholders. An NCAA that sets the pace, defines the standard, and leads the way in the aviation industry, not just in Africa but globally.

                He called on all to seize the opportunity to redefine legacy and shape the future of aviation in Nigeria. In his view, for a nation like Nigeria to favourably compete in the African air transport industry having a strong aviation system with superb structure in place is a crucial component.

                ''Together, we are not just transforming the NCAA; we are advancing our nation. We are not just impacting the aviation industry; we are uplifting millions of lives that depend on us for safe, efficient, and reliable aviation services. So, let's rise to the occasion. Let's harness the power of technology, the strength of our diversity, and the depth of our experience. Let's drive this transformation forward, for the NCAA, for Nigeria, and for the future we know is possible," he concluded.

                Former Director of Aerodrome & Airspace Standards, Engr. Tayib Adetunji Odunowo, in his own opening remarks, outlined how essential it is for the Authority, as policymakers, to collaborate proactively with employees, industry experts, stakeholders, and citizens in order to establish a flexible and responsive policy framework that can adjust to the latest developments in the digital sphere.

                Engr. Odunowo highlighted the aims and benefits of the ICT policy to include enhancing the availability of reasonably priced and dependable ICT services such as internet connectivity, mobile services and digital devices which will encourage the creation and adoption of new technologies; promoting research and development in ICT, thus promoting innovation; improving digital literacy rates and promoting awareness of the importance of digital technologies among the population in order to enhance digital literacy; establishing measures to protect against cyber threats, including data breaches and hacking attempts in order to ensure cyber security and so on; assessing NCAA's current policies for adequacy and compliance with global standards and regulations to choose applicable policies based on international best practices and creating an implementation strategy for efficient execution through this process among other things.

With no fewer than 31 participants taking part in the five-day programme, the objectives of the all-important retreat is for NCAA to possess a distinct collection of chosen policies and security measures which will include a document that lists the acronyms utilized across the aviation sector; for the information security posture of the NCAA to be enhanced, diminishing the likelihood of cyber threats and attacks; for the Authority's ICT operations to be guided by a comprehensive and up-to-date set of policies and security measures, ensuring compliance with international standards and regulations for information security.

                In attendance for the retreat was Director General of Civil Aviation, Captain Musa Nuhu and some management team which includes ex-Director of Aerodrome & Airspace Standards (DAAS), Engr. Tayib Adetunji Odunowo; ex-Director of Operations, Licensing & Training Standards (DOLTS),Capt. Elisha Bahago; ex-Director of Air Transport Regulation (DATR), Capt. Chris Ona Najomo; Director of Human Resources & Administration (DHR&A), Alhaji Adamu Wakil; General Manager (Administration), Mr. Anthony Ayasal Auya; Technical Assistant to the DGCA, Engr. Yakubu Mahmoud; and General Manager (Corporate Affairs), Mr. Maxwell Achonwa.

                While the five-day engagement was coordinated by Mr. Charles Ayeteni, Head of NCAA's ICT Department, its facilitation was done by Mr. Abdul- Hakeem Ajijola of Consultancy Support Services (CS2) Limited; Dr. Lucy Surhyei Newman and Mr. Frank Ogochukwu of Consultancy Support Service (CS2) Limited.