Founding President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua, was laid to rest on Tuesday in Abuja.
He died on Monday night of suspected heart attack after driving himself to a hospital. He was 78.
Funtua was a close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari and founder of the Democrat. He was also a sucessful businessman.
The Salat-al-Janazah (a funeral prayer) was held before his burial at the Shehu Shagari Central Mosque, Area 1, Garki. It was performed by the Chief Imam of Area 1 Mosque, Sheikh Abdulahi Bala Yau.
Prayers were offered at the graveside by the Chief Imam of the National Mosque, Abuja.
President Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura; former Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Mohammed Musa Bello, his predecessor Aliyu Modibbo Umar, Senator Tunde Ogheha, Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni and former Zamfara State governor Mahmoud Shinkafi were among dignitaries at the event.
Others are former Special Adviser to President Buhari on Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yahaya Lawal, former National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON ) Chairman, Abdulahi Mohammed and former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Also present were ThisDay/Arise TV Chairman Nduka Obaigbena; Abuja Enquirer publisher Dan Akpovwa, Leadership Newspaper publisher Sam Nda-Isaiah and Mohammed Idris of Blueprint Newspaper.
More tributes poured in yesterday for the late businessman.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo noted Funtua’s contributions to national development.
He said: “Mallam Isa Funtua was a well-respected elder statesman, an accomplished business mogul/publisher, an astute politician and a front line industrialist.
“His various contributions to the development of governance and public administration have ensured for him an evergreen memory in the hearts of many admirers and associates, particularly during the administration of President Shehu Shagari under whom he served as Honourable Minister of Water Resources as well as during his membership of the committee of the 1994-1995 Constitutional Conference that came up with models in key areas of Nigeria’s existence.
“As the founder of Bulet International Nigeria Limited, Mallam Isa Funtua’s robust identification with the objective of my administration as the President between 1999 and 2007 in implementing the master plan of the nation’s capital, FCT, cannot go unrecognised.
“He built some of the iconic public buildings in Abuja and remained steadfast in making the FCT a more habitable place and a major tourist and investment zone.”
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said Funtua’s death was painful.
In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, he said: “Mallam Isa Funtua was a man who touched many lives and impacted the development of Nigeria with his foresight, industry, enterprise, boundless enthusiasm, magnetism, friendliness and accommodating spirit.
“He made friends across tribe, religion, generation and class in Nigeria, and touched many lives in public service as well as in his private life.”
Lawan commiserated with Katsina State over the loss and condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari, who he said lost a close friend, trusted ally and in-law.
House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his spokesman Lanre Lasisi, said Funtua, who was a lifetime patron of NPAN and the International Press Institute, lived a life full of service to humanity.
The Speaker also condoled with President Buhari over the loss.
While praying Almighty Allah to give his family, the people and government of Katsina State the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, the Speaker prayed for Jannatul Firdaus to be his final abode.
Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari expressed deep shock over Funtua’s death.
In a statement by his media director, Abdu Labaran Malumfashi, the governor said Funtua’s death was a loss of monumental proportions.
He described the deceased as a prince of the world who, as a successful businessman, had traversed the globe promoting the very best of Nigeria.
He said: “Malam Isa Funtua, a Second Republic minister, was an iconic Nigerian brand who had acquitted himself well in business, media industry, politics and philanthropy, with hardly any place in Nigeria where his fame has not reached.”
He urged the bereaved to take consolation in the fact that the late Funtua lived a fulfilled life.
Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun described Funtua as “a quality icon who will occupy many good pages in Nigeria’s history.”
He commiserated with President Buhari and the people of Katsina State over the loss.
In a condolence message his media aide, Kunle Somorin, the governor said: “Mallam Isa Funtua was a man of honour and a great achiever. He lived an exemplary life; he was a democrat and a fine gentleman whose idea of power was that of being a tool to serve his fatherland and humanity.
“He was an elder statesman in the truest sense of the word in and out of government – as a technocrat in Northern Nigeria and later Minister in the Second Republic.”
Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa commiserated with President Buhari on Funtua’s passing and condoled with the family.
He described the deceased as a consummate leader, shrewd boardroom player and an elder statesman.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, Okowa said Funtua’s death was a huge loss to the President and the entire nation.
“His death remains a great loss not just to his family and President Buhari, but to the entire nation given his role as a successful businessman, media patron and exceptional statesman.
“Indeed, the late Funtua was very supportive of the President and I can only imagine the grief and sorrow that has befallen our dear President on this loss.
“Mallam Funtua will be sorely missed by newspaper publishers and all those whose lives he touched in positive ways.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, President Buhari and the entire nation. May the soul of the deceased rest peacefully and may God grant his immediate family the fortitude to bear his demise,” Okowa said.
Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel sent his condolences to the Funtua family.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ekerete Udoh, the governor described the late industrialist as ”a great patriot, a strong advocate for press freedom and a highly successful businessman and journalist whose intellectual rigour added deep value to our national discourse”.
Emmanuel said: “Above all, he was loyal to causes he believed in. He will be deeply missed.
“May God grant his family, the good people of Katsina State and all his friends and associates the fortitude to bear his unfortunate demise.”