Chika Unigwe

Chika Unigwe

The race is on for Nigeria Prize for Literature 2016 with 173 entries being received by the judges in Lagos on Wednesday 27th April 2016.

The Nigerian prize for Literate worth US$100,000 to the winner is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited and rotates among four genres – fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. This year the focus will be on fiction; the last winner in this genre was Chika Unigwe for her book On Black Sisters Street. Previous winners of the award include Sam Ukala, Gabriel Okara, Kaine Agary, and Tade Ipadeola.

Last year there was a bit of controversy during the prize giving ceremony as no one was given the award. The judges explained in a long soliloquy that no one was good enough in the children’s literature genre in Nigerian literature at this moment in time. It must have stung as this was the first time that no one went with the prize money since it was started in 2004. At least in 2009, the money was donated to the Nigerian Academy of Letters when no winner was selected.

According to NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations, Kudo Eresia-Eke, the submissions would be pruned based on editorial excellence, creativity and story plot, with the aim that a final winner may emerge in October to coincide with the anniversary of the company’s first shipment of LNG cargo.

This year the prize’s advisory board chair Prof Emeritus Ayo Banjo and he is supported by Prof Jerry Agada and Prof Emeritus Ben Elugbe.

“Today, we hand over the 173 entries received for this year’s edition of the competition and I have strong confidence that with their (the judges) very rich knowledge, experiences and competence, the process will again throw up a book of high quality,” Prof Banjo said.

Prof Emeritus Ayo Banjo is a Professor Emeritus of University of Ibadan, former Vice-Chancellor and Professor of English, had his education at Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos, University of Glasgow, Scotland, University of Leeds, England, University of California, Los Angeles and University of Ibadan.

Professor Jerry Anthony Agada is former Nigerian Minister of State for Education and was a Permanent Secretary to four Ministries in Benue State, Nigeria.

Prof Emeritus Ben Elugbe who teaches in the Department of Linguistics and African Languages at the University of Ibadan was the president of the Nigeria Academy of Letters.

You can read a full report of this handover by Evalyve Osagie in The Nation.