Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua has passed on. Aged 78, the businessman, media magnate and philanthropist died Monday in Abuja and was buried the next day also in Abuja. He was a close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari who described the deceased as someone “greatly admired and respected”. A condolence statement by Presidency spokesman Garba Shehu said: “President Muhammadu Buhari received with deep sadness on Monday evening information on the passing of his longtime friend and associate, Malam Isma’ila Isa Funtua, who was a top notch member of the International Press Institute and life patron of Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).
“The President condoles with family members, government and people of Katsina State, and all associates of the former President of NPAN, especially the media industry, on the loss. The President Buhari believes the demise of the publisher and businessman has created a huge gap as Mallam Funtua consistently stood by him on his political journey.” The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, described the late publisher and businessman as “a man of many parts who brought to bear his great intelligence, energy and integrity on everything he did.” In a condolence message on Tuesday, he said the late Isa Funtua was “a trail blazer who established an authoritative national newspaper and a giant construction company through which he left indelible footprints on the physical and socio-political landscapes of Nigeria.” Describing his death as a painful loss, the Senate President expressed his heartfelt condolences to the family of the late “business mogul, community leader, social and political activist and nationalist.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, said Isa Funtua “lived a life full of service to humanity.” Gbajabiamila, in a condolence message issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, prayed Allah to give Isa Funtua’s family, the people and government of Katsina State the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. The governor of Katsina state, Aminu Bello Masari, expressed deep sorrow over the death of Isa Funtua. He described the death as “a loss of monumental proportion which impact will be felt beyond the shores of Nigeria. He said the deceased was “a prince of the world who, as a successful businessman, politician and life Patron of the International Press Institute (IPI), had traversed the globe, promoting and advertising the very best of Nigeria.”
The late Ismaila Isa Funtua was born in January 1942 in Funtua in present day Katinsa State. He was a pioneer student of the Federal Training Centre, Kaduna and trained as an administrative officer at the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria as well as at the Manchester University in the United Kingdom. He was the Monitor General of Course 9 at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru in Plateau State. The late Isa Funtua served in the Katsina Native Authority for seven years as an Administrative Officer. Amassing over 30 years of management experience, he was the personnel manager of the United Textiles Limited (UNTL), Kaduna, responsible for over 10 thousand staff. He crowned his public service career when he was appointed Minister of Water Resources by President Shehu Shagari in the short-lived Second Republic.
When he exited public service, he went into business. He set up the popular brand, Bulet International Nigeria Limited that built many of the iconic public buildings in Abuja. His passionate involvement with the media industry was rewarded with his appointment as NPAN’s life patron. In 2018, he persuaded the IPI to hold its annual congress in Nigeria, the first in Africa. Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau State, said this of Isa Funtua: “He distinguished himself in the journalism profession where he played critical roles, promoting freedom of expression and the press. He also encouraged responsible journalism practice aimed at promoting nation-building and propagation of truth, justice and the fight against corruption.”
We at Peoples Media Limited in which Isa Funtua was a very visible investor and active participant, join his teeming admirers in prayer for the repose of his soul. Amen.