Muyiwa Daniel and Soni Ehi Asuelimen: A painful farewell

Muyiwa Daniel, right, and Soni Ehi Asuelimen


By Lanre Arogundade

Muyiwa Daniel’s death came as hope was getting brightened that as colleagues, associates and friends rallied round, he would overcome his challenging health situation. As he’s committed to mother earth today, one cannot but express sadness over his demise. A demise made the more painful because it came soon after that of Soni Ehi Asuelimen – world-Soni – another great journalist, who will also be sorely missed.

Muyiwa – MD – and Soni were two of a kind when it comes to wit, intelligence, power of the pen and firm belief in good journalism. At National Concord newspapers where we all sojourned before the Abacha junta put a death knell on the vibrant newspaper, they were easily recognisable for these talents.

Sports reporting came to MD naturally and his column was a reflection of his understanding of the happenings in the sporting world and the underlining fun, fury and intrigues. But it would be diminishing MD’s contribution to journalism to limit everything about him to sports reporting. For he too shared the vision of an NUJ that takes the professional issues of journalism and the affairs of journalists seriously. Thus ever before we worked together at National Concord, I had known him as a regular face at the monthly congresses of the Lagos NUJ, which held then at the NUJ Lighthouse, Victoria Island. As a close pal of late Ladi Lawal, he identified with and played a role in the crystallisation of the philosophy of journalism with social relevance as espoused by the NUJ New Trend Movement in the early 90s.
Back to the beats! If MD was an Admiral of the Fleet in the Sports reporting realm, world-Soni, was a General of the news who bestrode the newsroom like a colossus. He was Deputy News Editor when I joined National Concord as Chief Correspondent in 1991. My initial duty was to edit news reports from state correspondents and world Soni was quick to warn me: “always read the script to the end before you start editing because those correspondents would sometimes bury the real story in the last paragraph and you must make sure you exhume it”. On occasions I did that, he would tilt his head backwards, burst into hearty laughter and say: “didn’t I warn you?. Soni was also world-Soni because being intellectually inclined, he was at home with local and international affairs and loved to debate international political, commercial and military developments.
Sometimes the best of those analysis would come during the usual post-newsroom assemblies at the saint bottles cathedral. And when you encounter MD in such cathedral you realise you encounter a diminutive dynamite. In other words, in and out of the newsroom, MD and world-Soni were fun to be with.
Rest in peace dear colleagues.

– Lanre Arogundade, human rights activist, journalist and media trainer, writes from Lagos