By Comrade Issa Aremu
LAST OF AFRICAN ENTREPRENEUR STANDING
Until his death on Monday (July 21, 2020), Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua was among the few standing African entrepreneurs counted on the side of domestic production in place of wholesale importation and smuggling. Notwithstanding the challenges of electricity supply, smuggling and high costs of long term funds for investment, Mallam Isa, tirelessly worked for Industrialization and beneficiation in Nigeria.
MAIN DRIVER OF CTG
He was among the main drivers of the historic first comprehensive Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy announced by President Muhammadu Buhari two years ago. The CTG policy aims at reviving the entire value chains of cotton growing, Ginneries, spinning and weaving, printing and garments production.
The survival of the few pioneers textile mills namely s United Nigerian Textile Company, Kaduna and Ikorodu Lagos (which used to employed 10,500 workers ) and Funtua textile mill with over 700 workers presently can almost single handedly be attributed to the relentless activism and investment patriotism of Alhaji Isa Funtua.
CONDOLE PRESIDENT BUHARI
We hereby convey our heart felt condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari, the UNTL group of companies, government and people of Katsina state and leadership of National Union of Textile and Garment( NUTGWN) and Textile and Garment Employers Association (NTGEA) for this singular irreplaceable loss.
Mallam Isa would greatly be missed by the employers, workers, trade unions, traders, Trade and Investment Ministry officials dealing with textile and garment value chains.
SUSTAIN HIS LEGACY
The best tribute to Mallam Isa is to sustain his legacy of industry and enterprises for sustainable employment for mass of unemployed youths especially in the North. The Northern governors have the singular responsibility to ensure speedy and full implementation of Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) , the proposed establishment of industrial park in Funtua, revival of KTL as well as payment of outstanding entitlements of the workers.
Mallam Isa was quite excited by the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK), 614-km long natural gas pipeline recently launched by President Muhammadu Buhari. If completed the gas pipeline has the potential to further deepen industrialisation and job creation, in textile, petrochemical industries and power generation plants with attendant millions of downstream jobs.
Born in Funtua, Katsina State, he was a pioneer student of the Federal Training Centre, Kaduna. He trained as an administrative officer at the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, and also as an administrator at the Manchester University in the UK. He was an active member of the prestigious Alumni of the National Institute AANI, the motto of which is Towards A Better Society. He was the Monitor General of the Senior Executive Course 9 in 1998 of the prestigious National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru.
He served the Katsina Native Authority for seven years as Administrative Officer. He later served in various ministries in the defunct Northern Region before his secondment by the Northern Region government as the Personnel Manager of the then 10,500 strong United Nigerian Textile Company, Kaduna. From there he became a successful entrepreneur. Funtua was the Founder of Bulet International Nigeria Limited (the largest wholly-owned indigenous construction company) which built most of the iconic public buildings in Abuja. He was the founding Managing Director of the New Africa Holdings (publishers of the defunct Democrat newspapers)
A MAN OF PRINCIPLE
Mallam 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 the latter being incarcerated by General Sani Abacha. He later became the President of the NPAN. Funtua, was the youngest minister in the Shagari administration, was a staunch defender of a free press and free speech, philanthropist, humanist, chairman and director of many successful companies. Until his death on Monday, he was a life patron of the NPAN.
MAN OF MANY DEVELOPMENT IMPRINTS
Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua meant many things to all: a publisher, elder statesman, a silent and dignified politician, father and grand father. However, we will like to remember as an investor and enthusiastic employer of labour.
We received with deep shock the death of Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua in Abuja on Monday at the age of 78 years. May Allah grant him eternal rest In Aljana.
COMRADE ISSA AREMU mni
VICE PRESIDENT, INDUSTRIALL GLOBAL UNION AND MEMBER NATIONAL INSTITUTE, KURU JOS.