•His death will create a void around Buhari, says Presidency
A FORMER President of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua died last night shortly after driving himself to a hospital. He was 78
Funtua was a Second Republic minister of water resources in the late President Shehu Shagari government and a member of the Constitutional Conference convoked by the late military dictator Gen. Sani Abacha.
He was said to be feeling unwell at about 4pm. Not wanting to take things for granted, he drove himself to a hospital. He died shortly after.
A source said: “It is difficult to confirm what really happened but he lost the battle after getting to the hospital.
“Some said it was cardiac arrest but only his doctors can confirm what went wrong. ”
An in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari, The Democrat publisher’s remains will be buried at 1pm today.
Until his death, Funtua was one of the most influential politicians and businessmen in the country.
In the early 1980s, he established The Democrat, an all-colour newspaper in Kaduna which became authoritative on political matters.
His construction firm, Bulet, became a household after constructing the magnificent Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.
He was a life patron of the NPAN and also a patron of the International Press Institute (IPI)
The late Funtua was born in Funtua in January 1942. He received Islamic education, where he learnt the Qur’an, Islamic jurisprudence and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad.
He attended the Commercial College in Zaria, Federal Training Centre in Kaduna, the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, the University of Manchester, and was the Monitor-General of Course 9 of the Senior Executive Course at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies.
Prayers were offered for the repose of his soul at Shagari Mosque in Area 1 Abuja last night
Among the early callers at his residence last night was a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mallam Wada Maida.
President Muhmmadu Buhari received with shock, Funtua’s death.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President Mallam Garba Shehu, said the death of Funtua would leave a huge vacuum around the President, considering the very close connection they shared.
“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 Life Patron of International Press Institute and Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).
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“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, describing him as “greatly admired and respected’’.
“President Buhari believes the demise of the publisher and businessman has created a huge gap as Malam Funtua consistently stood by him in his political journey.
“The President prayed to Allah for repose of Malam Funtua’s soul, and to grant the family strength and fortitude to bear the loss”, the statement said.
National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) Director-General Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman aslo expressed shock and sadness at the news of Funtua’s death.
Prof. Sulaiman, in a statement by the Head, Information/Communication and Protocol of NILDS, Joke Akinsanmi, also commiserated with President Muhammadu Buhari, the deceased family, government and people of Katsina State and the country as a whole over the irreparable loss and prayed for his soul to rest in perfect peace.
In a condolence message by its Chairman and Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, the Northern Governor’s Forum (NGF) expressed sadness by Funtua’s demise.
Lalong said in the message: “This is a great loss to his family, the Northern Region and the entire Nation considering his immense contributions to national development.
“He is one person that has built bridges among people of different ethnic, religious and political persuasions and also encouraged unity, peace and tolerance.”