The Sultan of Sokoto and president of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar III, yesterday commiserated with President Muhammadu Buhari over the demise of his long-time friend, Mallam Isa Funtua.
The chairman, Media Committee of NSCIA, Femi Abba, in a statement he issued on Thursday while commiserating with the entire family of the deceased, said that the Sultan wished them all the fortitude with which to bear any agony that might have risen from his demise.
According to Sultan, “we are all from Allah and to Allah we shall all return. Inna Lillah wa inna ilayhi raji‘un.
“At the age of 78 years, Mallam Ismail Funtua’s demise could not have been shocking especially to any genuine Muslim who knows that death, like life, has a divine schedule which no mortal being can alter.”
Sultan described the late Funtua as magnanimous gentleman of unequalled professional status, adding that “Mallam Funtua, a graduate of Ahmadu Bello and Manchester universities as well as life patron of the International Press Institute (IPI), was simply a quintessential socialite with abhorrence for tribal and religious discrimination.
“He was particularly renowned for ventilating harmonious environments for peaceful coexistence across tribal and religious divides with his natural coolness and simplicity.
‘’As a federal minister in Nigeria’s second republic, Mallam Funtua practically demonstrated what the public conduct of a public officer ought to be in African setting.
“In that office, his conduct as a minister was like a magnet that drew many Nigerians to him as friends and associates irrespective of social status or faith professed.
“His simplicity became more prominent when he joined the media business as an astute administrator and managing director of The Democrat Newspapers after his exit from ministerial post following the collapse of the country’s Second Republic.
“As a minister and a business administrator, Mallam Isa Funtua displayed a very rare trait that is generally lacking in most privileged Nigerians of today.
“He was a skilful manpower builder and an ardent groomer of future leaders. As a onetime president of Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), he tactically taught most of his colleagues and media executives the culture of humility and contentment with which only a few of them were then familiar.
“From his experience of managing and coordinating the diverse cultural attitudes of over 10,000 workers at Nigeria Textile Mills, in Kaduna, where he once served as a personnel manager, Mallam Funtua learnt the methodology of instilling confidence in workers as a precursor of patriotism.
“The most unnoticed secret of his wonderful dynamism in social mixture was his combination of Western and Islamic education on the template of the fear of Allah. He was innately religious without exhibiting it,, he added.
The chairman, media committee of NSCIA, Femi Abbas, in the statement, consoled the entire family of the deceased, saying the Sultan prayed God to give them the fortitude to bear the loss.
Meanwhile, a former presidential aide and the leader of the Bakassi People of Cross River State, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, has extolled the virtues of the late media icon, who passed on Monday.
According to her, Nigeria has “lost a strong voice for unity with the passing of this illustrious Nigerian.”
Describing him as a true nationalist and a bridge builder, Senator Ita-Giwa recalled her encounter with him during the late Sani Abacha administration-organised Constitutional Conference in 1994.
Also, the Northern Media Forum (NMF) has described the death of Mallam Funtua as a big loss to the country and the media industry in particular.
The chairman of the forum, Dan Agbese described the late veteran as a pillar of support for the industry and practitioners all over the country and beyond.
He said that Funtua until his death was a life patron of International Press Institute and NPAN. He was also an advocate of free speech and press freedom and will sorely be missed for his contributions to the exponential growth of the media in the country.