Nigeria LNG (NLNG) Limited at a ceremony held at Muson Centre, Lagos on Thursday, January 29, 2015 presented Professor Sam Ukala with an award of the one hundred thousand dollar ($100,000) The Nigeria Prize for Literature.
The event had a packed audience made up of mainly students from various secondary schools in Lagos and members of literati; also present were veteran filmmaker Tunde Kelani; Richard Mofe-Damijo, representing the Delta State Governor and the deputy Vice Chancellor of Delta State University as well as representatives of the Obi of Owa, where Ukala’s Iredi War is set.
Ukala’s entry, Iredi War, was announced winner of the 2014 edition of the prize in October 2014 by the Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo led Advisory Board for the literature prize. Other members of the board include Professor Jerry Agada and Professor Ben Elugbe. Iredi War emerged winner from the one hundred and twenty-four playsthat were entered for the literature prize in 2014.
“Nigeria LNG is happy to bring Professor Sam Ukala and his formidable work, Iredi War, to the public for a robust interaction and celebration. This is one of the reasons we set up the prize in the first place— to celebrate outstandingNigerian authors and their works,” said Kudo Eresia-Eke, NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations Division.
During his acceptance speech, Professor Sam Ukala acknowledged the integrity of the prize and paid homage to the other two final shortlisted authors, Friday John Abba and John Idada who were also present at the event. “I feel fulfilled, grateful to God Almighty for the inspiration, talent and energy. I also feel indebted to NLNG for endowing the prize and processing the entries with utmost integrity and transparency through the appointment of an Advisory Board of truly honourable men, who, in turn, appointed persons of impeccable character as judges,” he said.
“I also think the public presentation is a great idea. It might result in the promotion of theauthor and his work as well as the promotion of literature and literary artists in general. It might be a forum to spotlight the need for Nigeria to consciously cultivate and maintain a robust reading culture as a way of improving the standard of education in the country,” he concluded. He also shared plans to make Iredi War into a film, and host Nollywood actor Joseph Benjamin was quick to pitch himself for a role in the film.
Sharing the podium with Professor Ukala was Professor Isidore Diala, the winner of the award for literary criticism, worth one million naira, instituted in 2012 to reward literary critics of Nigerian Literature from all over the world. It was being awarded for the first time.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited rotates yearly around four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. 2015 will mark its 11th year and the competition will be for children’s literature.
Nigeria LNG Limited, a private limited liability owned by the Federal Government through Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with 49% shareholding, Shell Gas B.V. with 25.6%, Total LNG Limited with 15% and Eni International with 10.4%, is the most significant arrow-head of the federal government’s quest to eliminate gas flaring and derive value from the country’s 187 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves.
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