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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 1,851entries for 16 competitions that have so far produced 12 winning works since its commencement in 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. A new four-year cycle began in 2020 with a focus on prose fiction. 

The Prize is administered by an Advisory Board set up by Nigeria LNG Limited. The current Advisory Board for Literature is headed by Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo, a renowned academic and former Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan, and a man of unimpeachable integrity. Other members of the Board are Prof. Ben Elugbe, former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and the West-African Linguistic Society, and Prof. Jerry Agada, former Minister of State for Education of the Federal republic of Nigeria, former president of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and the Vice-Chairman of Fidei Polytechnic, Gboko, Benue State of Nigeria. 

Winners are announced in October, commemorating the first export of LNG cargo by NLNG on October 9, 1999. Whenever possible, winners are honoured at The Grand Award Night and publicly presented at the public presentation of winners of The Nigeria Prize for Literature.

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. The rest, as they say, is history.

Implementation of The Nigeria Prize for Literature

  1. The implementation of the Prize is the responsibility of the Advisory Board, supported by the secretariat provided by NLNG.
  2. Only entries published in the year of the competition or in the three years before then shall be considered.
​Responsibilities of The Advisory Board

The board shall meet at least four times per annum on the Prize. These meetings can be physical or virtual. The roles of the board include to:
  • Appoint judges, including the international consultant, for annual adjudication process for The Nigeria Prize for Literature.
  • Provide general steer on the requirements for submission and adjudication process for the judges.
  • Provide general guidance to judges on winning entry if there is a stalemate.
  • Participate in the award ceremony for winners of the Prizes.
  • Review and approve call for entries.
  • Handover received entries to judges and approve judges’ adjudication guidelines.
  • Approve assessment criteria for each genre.
  • Announce, with the support of the judges and NLNG, the winner of the Prize.

Panel of Judges

This is a committee of judges set up by the Advisory Board to review and adjudicate entries submitted for The Nigeria Prize for Literature. The members of the panel shall be selected by the Advisory Board to reflect the geo-ethnic balance of Nigeria. Their tenure is annual. The Nigeria Prize for Literature shall have three Nigerian judges and one international judge.

Appointment 
  • The judge(s) must be experts, adjudged to be sufficiently versed in the genre under consideration for the particular year.  
  • A judge shall be nominated by the Advisory Board but shall be formally appointed with a letter signed by NLNG Management. Such appointment can only become effective when the appointee acknowledges such letter and accepts the appointment in writing.
  • The judges must be persons of impeccable character.
  • The person(s) will be required to have a personal laptop which can be used for online meetings via Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.
  • The person(s) must have basic Internet and computer skills to ensure they can navigate online platforms easily for the purpose of reports and online meetings.
  • The person(s) must be able to dedicate considerable time to the Prize in the year, be willing to travel for the purpose of the Prize and be in considerably good health to undertake such travels​.

Roles and Responsibilities

 Duties of the judges shall include:
  • ​Develop and agree on the assessment criteria to be approved by the Advisory Board for adjudication of Prize.
  • Read the entries and evaluate objectively to provide the long- and shortlists.
  • Submit reports of evaluation on agreed deadlines to the secretariat which submits same to the Advisory Board.
  • Ensure that adjudication is transparent, free and fair.
  • Align judgement with report of international consultant and Advisory Board and agree on winner(s)/no winner where necessary.
  • Prepare reports for the announcement of winners using the works on the shortlist of three.
  • Prepare a detailed report of adjudication and submit to the secretariat at the end of the cycle.
Winners at a Glance
Ye​ar
Genre Winning Entry Author
2019 Children’s Literature Boom Boom
Jude Idada
2018 Drama Embers
Soji Cole
2017 Poetry The Heresiad Ikeogu Oke
2016 Prose Season of Crimson Blossoms Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
2015 Children’s Literature No Winner No Winner
2014 Drama Iredi War Prof. Sam Ukala
2013 Poetry The Sahara Testaments Tade Ipadeola
2012 Prose On Black Sisters’ Street Dr. Chika Unigwe
2011 Children’s Literature The Missing Clock Mai Nasara (Mr. Adeleke Adeyemi)
2010 Drama Cemetery Road Dr. Esiaba Irobi
2009 Poetry No Winner No Winner
2008 Prose Yellow Yellow Kaine Agary
2007 Children’s Literature
  • My Cousin Sammy
  • Readers’ Theatre: Twelve Plays for Young People
  • Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo
  • Mabel Segun
2006 Drama Hard Ground Dr. Ahmed Yerima
2005 Poetry
  • Chants of a Minstrel
  • The Dreamer: His Vision
  • Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto
  • Dr. Gabriel Okara
2004 Prose No Winner
No Winner