173 entries have been received by the Nigeria LNG limited, sponsors of the annual Nigeria Prize for Literature, which focuses on Children’s Literature this year. The number of entries this year, said Andy Odeh Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, showed a 59% increase as compared to number of entries received in 2015, when the genre was last up for competition.
The number of entries was announced recently during a media briefing at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, by the Advisory Board of the prize, signifying the beginning of the judging process, which will culminate in the announcement of the winner later in the year.
Besides, the multinational gas company received 10 entries for the Literary Criticism Prize this year. While the Literature Prize, now in its 15th year, has a cash prize of $100, 000, the Literary Criticism Prize has a prize money of N1 million.
While handing over the entries to the Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, Odeh, said, “As we deliver these 173 books for your vetting, we eagerly look forward to the discovery of yet another literary gem who will open up possibilities for millions of children not only in Nigeria, but all over the Africa.”
“We can confidently say that the Nigeria Prize for Literature has brought some previously unknown Nigerian writers to public attention. Our generation and those after us are becoming familiar with not just legends like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Gabriel Okara, Elechi Amadi, and Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Mabel Segun and other writers of longstanding acclaim that, perhaps, some of us had the opportunity of reading as children, but also a new cadre of writers like Kaine Agary, Adeleke Adeyemi, Tade Ipadeola, Ikeogu Oke, Soji Cole and others.”
During the handover, Chairman of the Advisory Board, Professor Ayo Banjo recalled it was exactly 15 years after the first handover event was held. He stated that, at the start of this year’s cycle, the board was a bit jittery over the prize not being awarded in 2015 and writers being discouraged to send in their entries.
“When the call for entries was made, entries trickled in at the beginning, but toward the deadline, it picked up and crossed the 100 mark,” he said, adding that the board was hopeful that the numeric strength of the entries would be matched by strength in quality of the submissions.
He commended NLNG for having the vision to create the Literature Prize and The Nigeria Prize for Science, saying “the prizes have raised the creativity in the country, whether you are writing poetry or trying to solve the problem of electricity in the country.”
He remarked further that NLNG had done its share of work in promoting innovation and creativity in the society, stressing that “the company is contributing to the emergence of original thinkers and highly creative people in the society. It has managed to do that in the space of 15 years.”
The entries, according to the Advisory Board, will be examined on their merits of excellence in language, creativity and book quality. They were subsequently handed over to the panel of judges led by Professor Obododinma Oha, an expert in Cultural Semiotics and Stylistics in the Department of English, University of Ibadan with great interest in technology and language.
While receiving the entries, Professor Oha said, “We have been saddled with a big responsibility and we will discharge our assignment credibly.” Other members of the panel include Professor Asabe Usman Kabir, a professor of Oral and African Literature at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, and Dr. Patrick Oloko, a Senior lecturer at the University of Lagos Nigeria, who specialises in African postcolonial literature, gender and cultural studies.
The winners of the Literature and Literary Criticism prizes will be announced at an award ceremony in October 2019, to commemorate the anniversary of the first LNG export from the NLNG’s Plant on October 9, 1999.
Other members of the Advisory Board for the Literature Prize are Prof. Jerry Agada, former Minister of State for Education and former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and Professor Emeritus Ben Elugbe, former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and President of the West-African Linguistic Society.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature and The Nigeria Prize for Science are part of Nigeria LNG Limited’s numerous contributions towards building a better Nigeria.