Why we sponsor The Nigeria Prize for Science and The Nigeria Prize for Literature — NLNG MD, Tony Attah

Posted by News Express | 20 October 2018 | 723 times

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• Nigeria LNG prize for science, literature winners

Managing Director/CEO of Nigeria LNG Limited, Mr. Tony Attah, has given reasons why the company continues to sponsor The Nigeria Prize for Science and The Nigeria Prize for Literature despite the challenging business environment.

Speaking on Friday night during the 15th annual science and literature prize awards held at EKO Hotel & Suites Lagos, Mr. Attah noted that people often ask: “Why is Nigeria LNG so committed to honouring writers and scientists when its primary business is obviously gas?”

Providing the answer, the said: “It is because of our understanding of how indispensable literature and science are to societal development and how the time to promote them in a global economy that is fast leaning on innovation and creativity, is NOW. More so, a quick check of human history and evolution of societies shows that the development of science and literature is synonymous with societal growth and success. The more science and literature are advanced, the more society grows in innovation, creativity and enlightenment which are essential pillars of civilisation and human development.”

Continuing, he said: “Indeed, Gas is our business but so also is Nigeria’s success. No business can exist in isolation and be sustainable. No organisation can deem itself successful if it operates in a failed society. Hence, by instituting a significant prize for science, NLNG clearly expects to bring science and scientists to public attention, save them from what is regarded as current low rating in national estimation and avail the nation of their immense benefits. Countries like Japan, India and Singapore rose on the crest of knowledge provided by science and technology to conquer poverty and join the first world.

“It is in this context that the Nigeria Prize for Science was established and it is awarded yearly to any scientific work that provides solutions to a major national problem.”

Describing the investment in the awards as a worthy one, the NLNG CEO said: “The Science Prize has metamorphosed into a real solution finder for the societal problems plaguing our nation. Last year, 24 researchers competed for the prize which was pitched on finding solutions to the malaria epidemic in Nigeria. The theme for that competition was ‘Innovations in Malaria Control’.

“Through the prize, we made significant inroad into finding solutions to malaria pandemic in the country with the delivery of three distinguished research findings on malaria control. This was a landmark achievement for Nigeria and for Nigeria LNG.”

On the Literature Prize, Attah had this to say: “NLNG observed that, for decades, Nigerian writers had collectively bemoaned the fate of the literary industry. They were unhappy with the declining levels of education and literacy, unhappy with the loss of a reading culture, and for good reasons; sad that writing and publishing in a nation that gave the African continent its first crop of literary giants had all but become lost art.   

“Taking cognisance of these concerns, NLNG began to explore options of instituting a literary prize, because significant literary prizes are widely seen as a first step on the road to recovery for literature as they serve both as a celebration of literature and writers. This was a unique opportunity to effect beneficial change using the literature prize as a vehicle.

“Overall this has been a very rewarding expedition for Nigeria LNG, and I dare say, a prestigious feat that has listed our country among nations with eminent Prizes in the world. “

The Prize has produced winners who have become national icons.

“We can now proudly say that The Nigeria Prize for Literature and The Nigeria Prize for Science are now quite literally, ‘the gold standard’ in literature and science on the African continent today.

“There has been a literary renaissance of some sort since the Nigeria Prize for Literature was initiated. New literary stars like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Teju Cole, Lola Shoneyin, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Tade Ipadeola, Chika Unigwe, Ikeogu Oke and many more have emerged; new literary awards have been instituted; trail blazing publishing firms like Cassava Republic, Farafina, Kraft Books, Parresia, Quramo, Narrative Landscape and others have  rode on the crest of the new wave; book festivals and fairs like the Ake Book and Art Festival, the Port Harcourt Book Festival, the Kaduna Book and Art Festival, the Abuja Literary Festival and the Crater Literary Festival have been pioneered and thousands of book clubs are being set up in schools, homes and offices across Nigeria.

“In my view, the Nigeria Prize for Literature has contributed to triggering the renaissance in the literary world today and we feel very proud of this achievement.

“Despite all that has been said, we believe that more can still be done and should be done with a sense of ‘fierce urgency’ and Now. There are more opportunities in the book value chain which are still untapped. We have lots of talents and potentials yet to be tapped and I am using the opportunity of today where we will be crowning a new literature laureate to reaffirm our values and commitments to continue to work assiduously towards harnessing the value of the true potential of our people.”

Mr. Attah urged “relevant development stakeholders” to take advantage of the groundbreaking work of science laureates. His words: “For Nigeria LNG, the entries that have won the science prize can be advanced by relevant development stakeholders who can apply them to activate development of our society. It behoves on relevant industry players and stakeholders in the field to explore the possibility of commercial production of the research finds and also create avenues that promote optimum utility, thereby realising the main reason for setting up the prize. We have to do this as a matter of urgency.”

He congratulated this year’s winners: Dr Peter Ngene (Science), Soji Cole (Literature) and Isidore Diara (Literary Criticism).

The Award Presentation Ceremony attracted high caliber guests, among them the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, and Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by his Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan.

Source: News Express

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