Ismaila Isa Funtua OFR, mni was a Nigerian statesman who served as a Federal Minister in the Second Nigerian Republic. After government service, Isa Funtua went into business where he cultivated clients, business associates and friends who extended his interests beyond the normal scope of a businessman.
Ismaila Isa was born in Funtua in January 1942. He received Islamic education, where he learnt the Qur’an, Islamic jurisprudence and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. He later attended the Commercial College in Zaria, Federal Training Centre in Kaduna and the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. He also attended the University of Manchester, and was the Monitor-General of Course 9 of the Senior Executive Course at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies.
A highly capable administrator, Isa Funtua started his career in the Katsina Native Authority, where he eventually rose through the ranks working in the defunct North Central State. He later joined United Textiles Limited in Kaduna, where he was the personnel manager showcasing great managerial finesse over ten thousand workers. Isa Funtua later became the Federal Minister of Water Resources in the Second Nigerian Republic. He was a member of the 1994 Constitutional Conference under General Sani Abacha; was listed as a target by the regime.
He then retired into private business where he became a director of several companies. He was the founder of Funtua Textiles Limited, and managing director of the Democrat Newspaper. He was also the founder and Chairman of Bulet Construction Company (one of the largest indigenous construction companies in Nigeria), responsible for building several federal buildings. He was a Life Patron and the President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria.
He was a long time personal friend and close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari; and was a very influential figure in the Buhari administration.
Funtua is touted to be a member of the ‘Cabal’, a group of influential persons around Nigeria’s President said to help him take key decisions.
A relative of Isa Kaita, the Waziri (Prime Minister) of Katsina Emirate. His son Abubakar Isa Funtua is married to President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Safinatu.
He was also a prominent member of the infamous Kaduna Mafia, a loose group of Nigerian businessmen, civil servants, intellectuals and military officers from Northern Nigeria.
The Katsina-born newspaper publisher and industrialist was a minister under the civilian administration of Shehu Shagari.
A member of the 1994-1995 Constitutional Conference, he was also the founder of Bulet International Nigeria Limited, which built some of the iconic public buildings in Abuja.
Mr Isa-Funtua died Monday night, July 20, 2020. He is suspected to have died of cardiac arrest as he was not known to be seriously sick.