Today July 20th makes it exactly a year that Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua answered the call of his creator.
It is exactly a year that I received that unforgettable phone call from a cousin, Lawal Isa conveying the sad news of the demise of Mallam Ismaila.
Baba, as we fondly called you within the family circle, I still can’t believe I am yet writing another tribute because of your passing.
Words cannot describe that difficult moment, but if this is the time I get to say goodbye then I know I will do so with the knowledge that I consider myself blessed to have lived this life as your nephew.
You touched so many lives by your selfless and countless acts of kindness, always giving and never expecting any favours in return. Your dedication to a cause was what set you apart.
For every institution you worked for, you laid the path for others to succeed. Your footprints in the media, business, public service and politics are so glaring and evident.
The benefits of your hard work is a living testimony for so many young men and women you took under your wings at a personal and professional level.
Baba, you were and will always be an inspiration to me, the entire family and anyone who worked or associated with you.
You have left a void in the family that will be almost impossible to be filled.
While we mourn today, we also take solace in the fact that your mission on earth has been fulfilled. We thank the Almighty Allah for your life and bid you farewell until we meet again.
Though your death had been sudden and came as a rude shock to us on that that fateful Monday, your immediate and extended family, friends and associates have come to terms with the reality that you have gone forever.
Baba your might be gone physically from this world but your spirit will live on in our hearts forever. We still wake up every morning hoping this is a dream, and it hurts knowing you are gone forever.
On that Monday we spoke, you sounded okay and you told me not to bother coming to your house that evening as you will be too busy to attend to me; not knowing that will be our last conversation as I only met your lifeless body two hours after.
Though saddened by your death, which created a huge space in our life that will be near impossible to fill, we are, however, consoled with the outpouring of testimonies from across the globe from the people that knew and interacted with you while alive.
What will gladden our hearts more than the prayers offered for the repose of your soul, not only in our mosques here in Nigeria, but even in the two holiest mosques of Makkah and Madinah.
Your numerous, anonymous good deeds, philanthropy and touching of peoples life positively suddenly became a subject of public disclosure that even those of us close to you were knowing for the first time.
Among the things I will miss from your death are those virtues of simplicity, humility and ability to relate seamlessly with all classes of people without any air of arrogance or feelings of superiority despite your elevated status.
To all those that came across you, they found in your conduct and character what they never expected from a personality of your status. The house and the area you lived in throughout your stay in Abuja till your last breadth attest to that. Many could not believe that someone of your status could settle and find comfort in the midst of commoners.
Baba, you were a pillar and large shade for the extended family where everyone rushed to for succour. You were the rallying point for the family, always eager to assist everyone according to their need.
One thing that never failed to amaze me in your lifetime was your ability to pick your phone calls from any number – known or unknown – at any given time. Even if you couldn’t pick for one reason or the other one can be certain that you would surely call back.
I will always remember your admonishment to “pick any call because you don’t know why the caller is calling, and it is just a matter of yes or no”.
I can’t forget your usual joke that your telephone number had become easily available to people as sachet water.
Your death has certainly negatively affected uncountable number of people, particularly those that relied on your generosity for their livelihood, school fees, medication and such other assistance which you were famous for.
Baba you are gone but your legacies will continue to impact positively on us and those you touched their lives through your goodwill and generosity. Allah Ya jikan ka, Ya gafarta maka.
Mohammed Isa wrote in from Abuja