One of President Muhammadu Buhari’s closest associates, Alhaji Ismaila Isa Funtua, is dead.
He reportedly suffered a massive heart attack during a medical check-up.
Buhari’s Spokesman, Bashir Ahmed confirmed the development on Twitter.
He wrote, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un! Just heard about Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua’s sudden death.
“This life! May Allah accept his soul, forgive his shortcomings and grant him Jannah al-Firdaus.”
Another presidential aide, who did not want to be named, also confirmed the death of Funtua, saying a statement would be issued soon.
The deceased was the founding Managing Director of the defunct Democrat Newspaper and former President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).
Until his death on Monday, Funtua was a life patron of the NPAN, and Chairman of Bulet Construction Company.
The Manchester University-trained administrator was the Minister of Water Resources in the defunct Second Republic.
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 78 years old.
His death comes three months after that of Abba Kyari, former Chief of Staff to the President.
Funtua and Kyari were very close to the President.
Like Buhari, Funtua hailed from Katsina state. One of his sons is married to the President’s daughter.
Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said President Buhari received the news of the death of his political associate, Isa Funtua, with “deep sadness.”
Shehu said this in a statement titled “President Buhari mourns friend, political associate, Isma’ila Isa Funtua” and made available to journalists.
Shehu quoted the President as saying that Funtua’s death has created a huge gap because the deceased consistently stood by him in his political journey.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari received with deep sadness on Monday evening information on passing of his longtime friend and associate, Malam Isma’ila Isa Funtua, who was Life Patron of International Press Institute and Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria.
“The President condoles with family members, government and people of Katsina State, and all associates of the former President of NPAN, especially the media industry, on the loss, describing him as ‘greatly admired and respected.
“President Buhari believes the demise of the publisher and businessman has created a huge gap as Malam Funtua consistently stood by him in his political journey.
“The President prayed to Allah for repose of Malam Funtua’s soul, and to grant the family strength and fortitude to bear the loss.”