Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The founding Managing Director of The Democrat Newspaper and former President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua, is dead.
He died of cardiac arrest Monday night. The late elder statesman was aged 76.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Monday said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), recieved the news of the death of his political associate, Funtua, with “deep sadness.”
Shehu said this in a statement titled, ‘President Buhari mourns friend, political associate, Isma’ila Isa Funtua.’
Funtua was believed to be one of the power brokers behind Buhari’s regime.
The business tycoon, who hailed from Katsina like the President, was among those whom critics of the Buhari regime refer to as “cabal members.”
Funtua, along with the late former Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; and the President’s nephew, Mamman Daura; were described as powerful members in the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of the President.
Shehu statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari received with deep sadness on Monday evening information on the passing of his long-time friend and associate, Malam Isma’ila Isa Funtua, who was Life Patron of International Press Institute and Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria.
“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 the repose of Malam Funtua’s soul, and to grant the family strength and fortitude to bear the loss.”
Funtua was the Chairman, Bulet International Construction Company until his death.
He is expected to be buried on Tuesday (today) according to Islamic rites.
The deceased served as the Minister of Water Resources in the defunct Second Republic during the administration of the late President Shehu Shagari.
In the 1990s he set up a newspaper known as ‘The Democrat’ which was headed by the late Kyari.