Ikeogu Oke received the NLNG Prize for literature

Ikeogu Oke received the NLNG Prize for literature


Entries for $100,000 NLNG literature prize drop significantly

Expression of interest for the $100, 000 USD Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) prize for literature has dropped significantly.

A total of 89 playwrights submitted entries to compete for the 2018 edition of the prize. The number of entries for this year’s edition is the least in the recent times.

Entries for the prize, which is one of the most prestigious awards in literature globally had grown significantly since 2005 when the prize for poetry received only 13 entries. The prize was instituted in 2004.

Although many writers and other stakeholders criticised the long-list and short-list of the 2017 award, some poetry enthusiasts commended the list.

Literary critiques urged the board of the NLNG prize not to whittled-down its standards in order to keep the stakeholders’ interest growing.

In 2017, the NLNG prize received a total of 184 entries out of which Ikeogu Oke’s poetry collection, The Heresiad, won the award. This figure is higher than the number of entries in 2016, which was 173. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, an Arts reporter of a Nigerian daily, Daily Trust, won the prize with his Prose Fiction, Season of Crimson Blossoms.

There was a total of 109 entries for the prize in 2015. There was no winner of the prize in 2015 because none met the standard set for the literary laurel.

In 2014, the prize received a total of 124 entries out of which Professor Sam Ukala’s play, Iredi War, won the prize. Tade Ipadeola’s poetry collection, Sahara Testament, won the prize in 2013, after 203 persons submitted entries.

In 2009, there were 160 entries.

Speaking on the low number of entries for 2018 edition, the Deputy Managing Director of the NLNG, Sadeeq Mai-Bornu, represented by Acting Manager, Community Relations, Godson Dienye, noted: “We have received 89 entries this year; lower than what we had in 2014 when drama was also in focus. We must change this trend. All stakeholders must begin to own the prize as theirs and push it to greater heights. We also received two entries for the Literary Criticism Award competition, which unfortunately appears not to attract many entries.

“I consider this as a huge gap in Nigeria’s Literacy space. To the judges, I urge you to demonstrate your usual proficiency in administering and adjudicating the process, knowing that the world is earnestly waiting for your announcement of another legendary work.”

He added that the entries would be examined on their merits of excellence in language, creativity and book quality.

The NLNG over the weekend handed over the entries to the Advisory Board of the prize. An emeritus professor, Ayo Banjo, heads the Advisory Board for the literature prize.

Other members are former Minister of State for Education, Jerry Agada, and former president of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, Ben Elugbe, an emeritus professor.

Editorial Chief, Nigerian Bureau

Kings UBA is a Nigerian journalist and writer. I have reported for major local and international news organisations. I write satire. In 2017, I started contributing stories primarily to Discover Africa News Network. I can be reached on editorkingsuba@gmail.com. I currently manage Discover Africa News social media handles