The Nigeria Prize for Literature (along with The Nigeria Prize for Science) is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited. The prizes are aimed at bringing Nigerian scientists and authors to public attention and celebrating excellence in scientiﬁc breakthroughs and literary accomplishments in the nation.
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 and broadcast journalism.
The Advisory Board for Literature is made up of members of Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) and the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). Winners are announced in October, commemorating the ﬁrst export of LNG cargo by NLNG on October 9, 1999.
At inception in 2004, the monetary reward was USD20, 000, which was increased in 2006 to USD30, 000. In 2008, it was again upped to USD50,000. In 2011, yet another signiﬁcant change in the administration led to the increment of the monetary reward to USD100, 000 for the prize.
Every year, the award focuses on one of the following categories: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature.
History and Past Winners
In 2004, there was no winner for the literature prize (Prose Fiction). However, three authors, Bina Nengi-Ilagha, Omo Uwaifo and Prof Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, received honourable mention for their efforts.
In 2005, joint winners emerged for the literature prize which focused on Poetry. Ezenwa Ohaeto and Gabriel Okara were rewarded for their books Chants of a Minstrel and The Dreamer: His Vision respectively.
In 2006, Dr Ahmed Yerima claimed the prize in literature (drama) for his book Hard Ground.
In 2007 joint winners emerged for the children’s literature. Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and Mabel Segun emerged joint winners with their books, My Cousin Sammy and Readers’ Theatre: Twelve Plays for Young People respectively.
The literature prize in 2008 returned to Prose Fiction. Kaine Agary won with her ﬁrst book, Yellow Yellow.
In 2009, no winner emerged for the literature prize.
The decision of the judges not to award the literature prize in 2009 precipitated signiﬁcant changes in its administration. Nine poets were shortlisted for the literature prize, but by the time the judges were done with their work that year, no winner emerged. This attracted reactions from the Nigerian literary community worldwide. Rising to the occasion as a truly listening company, Nigeria LNG Limited convened a stakeholders’ engagement forum to examine and improve the prize administration protocols. Consequently, the prize was opened up to Nigerians everywhere in the world and the names of the judges, hitherto kept secret, were made public. The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since grown to be Africa’s most prestigious reward for literary excellence. It is ranked among the world’s top 100 in prize money.
The literature prize (drama), in 2010, got its ﬁrst post-humous winner, Dr Esiaba Irobi, who won the prize with his play Cemetery Road. He died after submitting his work for the competition.
In 2011, Adeleke Adeyemi, emerged winner of the literature prize with the pen name, Mai Nasara, for his book The Missing Clock in the children’s literature category.
In 2012, (Prose Fiction) Chika Unigwe beat 213 authors to the prize with her book On Black Sisters’ Street. She became the second foreign based author to win the prize.
In 2013 (Poetry) Tade Ipadeola’s The Sahara Testaments emerged the winning entry.
In 2014, Iredi War by Sam Ukala was announced as the winning entry for the year’s edition of the prize.
In 2015, another year for Children’s literature, the prize judges ruled that none of the entries was worthy of the prize. The prize money was thus utilized to fund a workshop for children’s literature authors later in the year.
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