By Laleye Dipo
Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has eulogised Newspaper publisher, Ismaila Isa Funtua who passed on last Monday, .hdescribing him as a ” Pan Nigeria statesman who was largely misunderstood”.
Babangida in the tribute he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Minna Niger state on Thursday said: “He was a pan-Nigeria statesman who was largely misunderstood by some and eternally appreciated by many who understood the dynamics of his engagements.
“He carried with him an aura that defined his persona. He made friends across the length and breadth of Nigeria, from the North to the South, East to the West. He was indeed a bridge builder, a peace maker and one who believed so much in the unity of Nigeria. He believed so much in constructively engaging issues, apply mediation to resolving issues than seeking alternative methods.
“Often times, he would insist that Nigerians must live to love themselves despite our different “tongues and tribes”, because in his view, we are better off as a united entity than a fractured nation”.
Babangida who said the deceased became part of his family over fifty years ago added that “since then we have remained so closely knitted until his sudden death two days ago,” pointing out that “It has taken me two days of shock to be able to muscle the strength to write this tribute and condolence to the family of my departed brother, friend, associate and confidant, Ismaila Isa Funtua”.
The former military president said, “I am still left in awe to come to terms with the shocking news, but like every mortal, we must taste death when it is time.
“Mallam Isa, as I fondly call him, was one Nigerian who never pretended about issues and situations. You would rightly know where he belongs. He was not given to frivolities and shenanigans. He was pointedly frank when he needed to make his position known on any matter.
“As friends and brothers that we were, he never hesitated in speaking his mind in a brutally frank manner no matter whose ox is gored. He carried himself with uncommon patriotism and always ready to reach out to people no matter their backgrounds and tribal inclinations.
The former military president described Mallam Funtua as “a publisher, business guru, socialite, patriot and pan-Nigerian in every sense of the word” adding that the deceased “would be greatly missed. His death, has once again, reminded us of the ephemerality of life and its fleeting nature. It is a call that should remind all of us to be God fearing, in our trajectories and engagements in life”.
Babangida believed that “Isa, lived a fulfilled life as a devout Muslim and lover of humanity” . He extended his heart felt condolences to his family friends and associates.