Ikeogu Oke has emerged winner of this year’s Nigeria Prize for Literature sponsored by the Nigeria LNG Limited worth $100,000.
The Chair of the Advisory Board of the prize, Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo made the announcement today at a world press conference in Lagos. He won with his collection of poems titled, The Heresiad beating the other two shortlisted contenders Ogaga Ifowodo (The Good Mourning) and Tanure Ojaide (Songs of Myself: Quartet).
Oke told Sabinews.com in an interview that there is a line in his collection that talks about giving a lifebuoy to a drawing art and that is poetry drawing because of neglect and the way it is being managed as an art.
“If I win the prize money I will use some of it to promote the interest of the art that I love so much, which is poetry ,” he said.
It took Ikeogu Oke 27 years to pen The Heresiad, published by Kraft Books Ltd. The collection employs the epic form in questioning power and freedom. It probes metaphorically the inner workings of societies and those who shape them. Ikeogu is a writer, poet and journalist. He studied at the Universities of Ibadan and Nigeria. His creative works include Salutes Without Guns, The Tortoise and the Princess, The Lion and the Monkey, In the Wings of Waiting and Where I was Born.
The Chairman of the Panel of Judges for this year’s Nigeria Prize for Literature is Professor Ernest Emenyonu, professor of Africana Studies at the University of Michigan-Flint, USA. Other judges are Dr. Razinat Mohammed, associate professor of Literature at the University of Maiduguri and Tade Ipadeola, poet, lawyer and winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literature, 2013
Other members of the Advisory Board, besides Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, two-time Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan, are Prof. Jerry Agada, former Minister of State for Education, former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and Professor Emeritus Ben Elugbe, former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and president of the West-African Linguistic Society (2004-2013).
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. The 2017 edition is for poetry and comes with a cash prize of $100, 000. A total of 184 entries for the prize were received this year. Next year’s prize will be for drama.