Posted by Amechi Obiakpu, Lagos | 10 October 2017 | 3,960 times
Ikeogu Oke has emerged the winner of the 2017 edition of the prestigious Nigeria LNG Literature Prize.
The Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) made the announcement in a press conference in Lagos on Monday, even as it exhibited its concern as no winner emerged in the critical work category.
Oke’s Heresia poetry work emerged this year’s winner in a keen competition that saw 184 entries across the country.
Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Prize, Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo said the result was a reflection of an intensive job done by both external consultant and panel of judges with key interest in creativity, maturity of language and the depth of works.
Professor Banjo said the need for an external consultant was berth following the desire to give the competition an international appeal in the area of winner selection. He however added that his board was not disappointed at the results by both the external consultant and the panel of judges as their results were unanimous.
Professor Banjo said: “After a rigorous selection process, the interesting thing about this year’s competition is that both the external consultant, Prof. Abena Busia, Ghanaian Ambassador to Brazil and the panel of judges independently arrived at the same result. They both separately and independently recommended a joint winner of Ikeogu Oke’s Heresia and Tanure Ojaide’s Songs of myself. However, they went further to recommend Oke as a sole winner.”
The professor added that, the board does not favour joint prizes just as it does not favour distribution of prizes to the first, second or third winners, this according to him will devalue the essence of the event.
On his part, Chairman of the Panel of Judges, Professor Ernest N. Emenyonu said: “The seriousness with which the NLNG literary prize is received by the teeming population of writers in Nigeria is a sign that the expectations of writers swing beyond the prize itself to that of portraying their creativity.
“Oke’s poetry collection reveals a conscious and deliberate manipulation of language and philosophy in the style that reminds us of the writings of great Greek writers of Homeric and Hellenistic periods.”
Meanwhile, no winner emerged in the critical writing category. This was so because only five entries were received, of which three were disqualified and the remaining two did not meet the standard of the competition to emerge the winning entry.
Commenting on the event, the General Manager, External Relations at NLNG, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, said: “We at NLNG are proud of this additional achievement. National and international interest in both the Prize and process are increasing and this is good for the prize and for Nigeria. We are pleased with the judges’ verdict and Mr Ikeogu Oke has demonstrated that he is a fine poet and Nigerians need to rally around and celebrate him.
“We are having a brand new crop of writers making a world for themselves. No longer will we be having only the Wole Soyinkas, Chinua Achebes but now more writers who are holding their own.”
Asked if he was concern that no winner emerged in ‘Critical Writing’, he said: “We are concern. The prize is there, yet there was no response. Though, we agreed that there is some kind of inertia which I expect should be dealt with soon and in subsequent editions get more response in the category.”
The decision on the winning entry of The Nigeria Prize for Literature was reached by a panel of judges, led by Prof. Ernest Emenyonu, professor of Africana Studies at the University of Michigan-Flint, USA. Other judges are Dr Razinat Mohammed, associate professor of Literature at the University of Maiduguri and Tade Ipadeola, poet, lawyer and winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literature, 2013.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2004 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2005, poetry), Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto (co-winner, 2005, poetry); Ahmed Yerima (2006, drama) for his classic, Hard Ground; Mabel Segun (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary (2008, prose); Esiaba Irobi (2010, drama) who clinched the prize posthumously with his book Cemetery Road; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011, children’s literature) with his book The Missing Clock; Chika Unigwe (2012 – prose), with her novel, On Black Sister’s Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013; Poetry) with his collection of poems, Sahara Testaments; Sam Ukala (2014;Drama) with Iredi War; and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (2016, Prose) with Season of Crimson Blossoms.
For emerging the winner for the 2017 edition, Ikeogu Oke was rewarded with $100.000.
•Photo shows, L-R; Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo, Chairman Advisory Board for Literature; Dr Kudo Eresia-Eke, General Manager, External Relations, Nigeria LNG Limited and Professor Ernest Emenyonu, Chairman, Panel of Judges, 2017 Nigeria Prize for Literature at a press conference to announce the 2017 NLNG Prize for Literature in Lagos on Monday October 9, 2017.
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