The Nigeria Prize for Literature
The Nigeria Prize for Literature is a registered charity. The secretariat for the administration of the Prize is also located within Nigeria LNG Limited.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature, known for its transparent assessment process, has recorded over 2,051 entries for 17 competitions that have so far produced 17 winning works since its commencement on February 2004.
With The Nigeria Prize for Literature, it is expected that the quest for a prestigious prize will improve the quality of writing, editing, proof-reading, and publishing in the country with far-reaching positive effect on print, broadcast journalism, film and theatre production.
The competition runs a four-year cycle that revolves around Prose Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Children’s Literature in that order. In 2019, the focus was Children’s Literature and the winner was Boom Boom by Jude Idada.
The 2020 cycle is on prose fiction but its administration was stalled due to the negative impact of COVID-19 which swept round the whole world. It was consequently carried over to 2021.
An Advisory Board administers the Prize set up by Nigeria LNG Limited. Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo heads the current Advisory Board for Literature. Professor Adimora-Ezeigbo is an emeritus professor of English and a 2007 The Nigeria Prize for Literature joint-winner in the Children’s Literature category. Other members are Prof. Olu Obafemi and Prof. Ahmed Yerima. Prof. Obafemi is a playwright, poet and Professor of English at the University of Ilorin. Prof. Yerima is a professor of Theatre and Performing Arts at the Redeemer’s University. He is also a Laurette of The Nigeria Prize for Literature in the Drama category (2006).
Winners are announced in October, commemorating the first export of LNG cargo by NLNG on October 9, 1999. Winners are honoured at The Grand Award Night, a grade A public ceremony, attended by the la crème of the Nigerian society, including former Heads of State. Winners are subsequently honoured and publicly presented at another public presentation ceremony.
Objectives for Setting up the Prize
Nigeria became the first in Africa to produce a Nobel Laureate in Literature in the person of Prof. Wole Soyinka. The country also produced one of the most decorated authors in the world, Prof. Chinua Achebe, whose book, Things Fall Apart, translated into more than 61 languages, has been listed by Encyclopaedia Britannica as one of 12 novels considered the greatest book ever written. Then there are the great legacies of other Nigerian writers such as Ben Okri, Cyprian Ekwensi, Femi Osofisan, Gabriel Okara, Christopher Okigbo, Chukwuemeka Ike, Flora Nwapa, among others, whose writings were compelling and helped positively shape what people know about Nigeria.
However, prior to inauguration of the Prize, the quality of writing, publishing, news features and articles in newspapers and magazines, and the quality of film production on television and radio did not paint a picture of the excellence the industry was previously known for.
It therefore became evident to us at Nigeria LNG that a well-run literary prize with transparent adjudication process, administered by respected academics, writers and lovers of literature, and with respectable monetary reward, will spur creativity and contribute to the improvement of the quality of writing, editing and publishing in Nigeria. This led to inauguration of the prize on February 2004 with a cash reward of $20,000. The rest, as they say, is history.
Implementation of The Nigeria Prize for Literature
- The implementation of the Prize is the responsibility of the Advisory Board, supported by the secretariat provided by NLNG.
- Only entries published in the year of the competition or in the three years before then are considered.