By Kemi Kasumu
“Alhaji Isa Funtua put in all his efforts. He had attended several meetings with us at the CBN during the revival meeting of the Cotton-Textile-Garment, which the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has also taken close to his heart because he, himself, was a credit officer during the textile days.”
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has been called upon to consider the necessity of immortalising the late Mallam Isa Funtua with the CBN Textile Revival by properly implementing it to the fullest.
This call was made in a condolence message, mourning the death of the late industrialist, by the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA) issued in Lagos my its Director General, Alhaji Hamma Kwajaffa, on Friday July 24, 2020.
According to Kwajaffa, “The apex body of the Textile Manufacturers Association wishes to use this opportunity to condole the family and management of UNTL and worker’s union on the demise of Mallam Isa Funtua, a great industrialist and good friend of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. The Association wishes to also use this opportunity to condole the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a close ally of the deceased in the efforts the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele has personally put in the CTG, Cotton-Textile-Garment revival. Mallam Isa Funtua had been a great pillar in ensuring that the textile industry was back on its feet again and had worked tirelessly to see to it that the industry is revived and even better than its hey days of the 1960s and 70s when the textile industry employed over 500,000 workers and about one million in the cotton sector. The whole value chain employed two million Nigerians around that time.
“It is sad to see that today, only 24 textile mills are remaining out of 167 and, definitely, nobody in his right senses would sit down and watch the industry and its employment dwindle in this country.
“Alhaji Isa Funtua put in all his efforts. He had attended several meetings with us at the CBN during the revival meeting of the Cotton-Textile-Garment, which the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has also taken close to his heart because he, himself, was a credit officer during the textile days and he had seen how the textile was booming. He is saddened that it has come to this level. So, he, himself, has a serious passion in seeing to it that the sector is revived. The CBN governor called Alhaji Isa Funtua ‘Baba Funtua ’. Each time there was problem he would advice we “See, Baba Futua”.
“Now that he is no more, the CBN governor should ensure that the textile revival is taken to its behest and ensure that it is properly implemented. Whether he is there or not there again, the CBN should immortalize the textile revival as “Isa Funtua Textile Revival” because of his devotedness towards its implementation.
“So, we have to work together tirelessly with him even after his demise to ensure that this revival is properly done and that the whole sector is revived to employ large number of people again and to industrialise both North and South. Because, in those days, the regions were in healthy competition between themselves.
“The Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sardauna Ahmadu Bello, went to Egypt and saw what was done to cotton as in import substitution. He felt that cotton didn’t have to be exported raw, that we could also process and use it in this country. This was because, in those days, Northern Nigeria made Nigeria the highest exporter of cotton in Africa. Egypt and South Africa also queued behind us. So, when the Sardauna travelled to Egypt and saw what they were doing to cotton, he said, “Ha, my country is producing this thing. Why can’t we also process it into fabric? ”” the NTMA DG, Kwajaffa tells the story of Cotton-Textile-Garment value chain as it came to mind at the demise of the ‘unputdownable’ industrialist and development partner, Mallam Isa Funtua.
“May the soul of the elder statesman rest in perfect peace. Amen.”
Ismaila Isa Funtua OFR, mni, who was born in 1942 and lived a fulfilled life as a devoted Muslim, highly detribalised and exceptionally achiever-industrialist until his death this July 2020, was a Nigerian statesman, who served as a Federal Minister in the Nigeria’s Second Republic.
After government service, Mallam Isa Funtua went into business where he cultivated clients, business associates and friends who extended his interests beyond the normal scope of a businessman.
He attended the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Manchester and National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru and has been greatly exemplified as a quintessential administrator.
He was a long time personal friend and close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari and was a very influential figure in the Buhari administration.
Ismaila Isa Funtua died on 20 July 2020 after a cardiac arrest.