It was exactly five years on July 10th 2017, when the renowned NTA popular broadcaster, Alhaji Aremu Rasqak Gawat was declared missing in a controversial circumstance in Lagos. Since then, series of things were said about his whereabout. However, his eldest child, Alhaja Rukayat Gawat-Oyefeso on July 10th, 2016 staged a Fidau prayer and big remembrance party for her missing dad. The event took place at Muri International Television ‘MITV’ premises Alausa Ikeja, Lagos, and it was graced by Sheikh Muyideen Ajani Bello, Sheik Daud Abdul Majeed Eleha (Alfa Nla) and many other Islamic clerics as well as different Islamic societies.
A day after, City People GBOLAHAN ADETAYO had aninterview with Rukayat, who is also a top female Islamic musician in Nigeria, and she spoke extensively about her missing dad, why she held the 4 year remembrance, her musical career among others. It will also interest you to know that the delectable woman of great value recently held the 5th remembrance for her Dad and it took place at her Lagos abode.
You recently held a 4th year remembrance for your missing dad, how did you feel having that kind of crowd?
I praise Allah for his mercy, I was so excited looking back and I saw a lot of people who came out abundantly to witness the event. We had over 3,500 guests in attendance and I was happy.
Before the event was held, a lot of people were wondering why a remembrance prayer be held for a man who is yet to be declared dead? Why the remembrance?
Why I did the programme is because Imam Maliq said it in his “Tira” that if a man got missing and he is yet to be found 4 years after, a fidau prayer can be observed after that, we should wait and see what God will do, and I followed what Imam Maliq said. In essence, I am following the words of Quran, what is in the Quran is that after 4 years of disappearance of a fellow, we can actually organize a prayer for him/her and what I did was in line with Quranic injunction to pray and now be in expectant of what God will do in as much as I do not believe that my father is dead, and I still strongly hope that I am still going to see him very soon, I have to follow the tendent of Quran and if he is dead, the prayer goes to him and if he still alive, the prayer also goes to him again.
Before the 4 years, have you ever tried to do this kind of prayer for him?
Almost every month, I do call Islamic clerics to pray for my late dad. I sometimes kill ram.
It seemed like you were the only one who did the event, why?
I am not the only one doing everything, my immediate younger brother, Jubril was there with his wife and the others couldn’t come because they are out of Lagos, so it was a family stuff, it is not as if it was solely thing. As the eldest child, it was packaged by me but organized by the family. I represented the family as the eldest child.
At the event, you announced that the event wasn’t for fund raising; can you please explain what you mean?
Before the event, I learnt that some set of people were going around disseminating fallacy about me that I wanted to use the event to beg for money from the public, and I didn’t go to anyone to give me money for my father’s remembrance. I used my money to do what I did for my dad and that was why I used the medium to pass the message across to Nigerians that I didn’t use my father’s Fidau to do fund raising. I can arrogantly say that nobody spent 1 kobo. There was nothing like after praying you bring out money to the clerics as “Owo Adura”.
It is very rare going for Islamic event and people won’t spend, is there any other reason?
I did that to correct a lot of misconceptions because many were saying the prayer was actually organized as a fund raising and I felt that I have to use whatever it is that I earned legitimately to organize a prayer for my dad, and I also instructed all the imam at the occasion not to call for any donation and that was why you saw it that nobody called for any donation, contribution and I didn’t request a dime from anybody.
You can’t drop any money except it is asked for which we never did, all we did was just prayers for the soul of Alhaji Aremu Gawat. It was organized for him to have peace wherever he may be.
Is it going to be an annual event?
Definitely yes. In fact next year, we are targeting to have about 5,000 guests and it is going to be held at TBS or Blueroof or the national stadium because we don’t want to make it a Lagos specific event. Gawat is actually a national person, he is a South West personality and we are making it a South West event and we are expecting a minimum of 5,000 to 10,000 guests.
Since the man was declared missing, what has been the contribution of NTA and state government to the family?
NTA has been very supportive and you can even see their crew at the event all through. The NTA has been running this advertisement consistently during the period of Ramadan. Their contribution is being acknowledged. We didn’t involve the state government because we felt that involving them will require them to give us money and I don’t want to collect money from anybody to organize a fidau for my father.
He laboured so hard to send me to school and my other siblings, he did everything to make me the type of person I am now. Anywhere I goes now, doors open when I mention his name. Whatever I am today, after God it is because I am Gawat’s daughter. I feel so strongly that I shouldn’t involve the state government, I don’t want any contribution of any sort.May be as the event gets bigger, I may now have Gawat’s foundation where I will invite the state government to be part of but for now, it is a sole event that is being sponsored from my sweat.
In the last 4 years, how has it been in the family?
It’s been very challenging and tough. We cry almost every day. If you know that your father is dead, there are times that you will still miss him, that is the person you buried let alone of the father that will hug you, the father that will call you very early in the morning and pray for you and you are no longer seeing him for good 4 years, it is a serious pain that the family is experiencing, but what do we do? Who are we to question God? We are nothing in the hands of God. We so much believe that what has happened God is fully aware of it, and we are so positive that the God we are serving will not lead us astray. We cannot find Gawat but we know that with God we will still see him. The truth is that we are going to see him.
Has any sheik informed the family that he will one day be found?
Sheiks are not God, Imams are not God and the only person who knows where Gawat is, is God. So, whatever Sheik or pastor have said is whatever they have said, we don’t believe in Sheik but the almighty God. And we believe strongly that wherever our dad is, he will come back to meet us safely by the special grace of God.
What really influenced your idea of helping widows?
In the holy Quran, God says that he is the husband of widows and if truly he is, I feel that whatever I have can be given to the widows to support them and believe that they will appreciate it since God is their husband and if I am helping them, I know that God will automatically have mercy on me.
Like how many of them do you assist in a year or per month?
I have lost count because in November 2015, I supported 120 of them and after that, I have done so many. I can’t even count the one I did at my father’s remembrance because we shared so many gifts for them that day.
How do you even support them?
When I did the one of November, I gave them food and cloths but this recent one was only food items like Garri, Spaghetti, sugar and rice.
Let us talk about your career, right now in the Islamic music world, you seem to be Number 1 among female Islamic singers. How did you do it?
I can’t really say but I believe it was all from God. I am only trying my possible best while God is stamping it. I will just be lying if I say I did this and that but I know that it has been written that this is how it will be.
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