Life and Times of Alhaji Mallam Isma’ila Isa Funtua

Mallam Isma’ila Isa Funtua was born in his home town of Funtua in Katsina State on January 17, 1942 to late Mallam Isan Ammani and Hajia Hafsat.

The young Funtua attended Islamic and Primary School in his homestead before moving to Commercial College Zaria, Federal Training Centre Kaduna and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.

He later attended Manchester University in the United Kingdom. On his return to Nigeria, he started his working career with the Katsina Native Authority (NA) and rose to the position of Administrative Officer. Funtua served the Katsina Native Authority for seven years as Administrative Officer.

He later transferred his service to North Central State Government still as an Administrative Officer. He served in various ministries in the defunct Northern Region before his secondment by the Northern Region government as the Personnel Manager of the 10,500 strong United Nigerian Textile Company, Kaduna.

As the company’s Personnel Manager, records showed that he did the job with great managerial finesse. From there, he went on to NICON and became a director, after which he retired into private business.

He was subsequently appointed minister of state for water resources by former President Shehu Shagari in 1983, during the defunct Second Republic, and was the youngest minister in the Shagari administration.

Isa Funtua demonstrated his love for true democratic practice, the liberation of the minds and freedom of thoughts, when he established the Democrat Newspapers in Kaduna. The arrival of the Democrat Newspapers was a great boost to the stature and prestige of the ordinary Northerner.

However, his relentless commitment to societal good and need for freedom of expression pit him against the military government, especially the regime of late Gen Sani Abacha.

For not keeping quiet in the face of tyranny, Funtua became one of the targets of the regime, as he was number 13 on the Abacha hit-list.

His desire for democratic rule saw him serve as a member of the 1994-1995 Constitutional Conference. He was a member of the committee that came up with models in key areas of Nigeria’s existence.

One of such was a special committee of 37 people on zoning and rotational presidency, which resolved that rotation of power between the North and South be entrenched in the constitution.

As founding managing director of the New Africa Holdings (publishers of the defunct Democrat newspapers), Funtua was elected Vice President to the late MKO Abiola as President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, (NPAN). He declined to succeed MKO as President while being incarcerated by Gen Abacha during the famous June 12 struggle.

Funtua later became the President of the NPAN and until his death, the life patron of the NPAN, a position which projects him as staunch defender of a free press and free speech.

As an astute entrepreneur, he was founder/Chairman of Bulet International Nigeria Limited (the largest wholly owned indigenous construction company) which built most of the iconic public buildings in Abuja and provided job opportunities for Nigerians.

Funtua, was also an alumni of the National Institute for Poliy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). He was the Monitor General of the Course 9 at NIPSS, Kuru.

As a renowned philanthropist, humanist, chairman and director of many successful companies, he was conferred with an award of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) in December 2003.

He has one wife and is blessed with five children, two male and three female.

 

 

Leadership Newspaper

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