THE Advisory Board of the Nigeria Prize for Literature and Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) has announced Ikeogu Oke as the winner of the 2017 edition.
The NLNG award goes with a cash prize of $100, 000.
The announcement was made by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo, at a news conference in Lagos.
Ikeogu Oke’s collection of poems, The Heresiad, emerged winner from among 184 entries received for the competition.
According to Prof. Banjo, “Poetry competition for the prize is always very fierce and very interesting. We couldn’t have been more reassured about the process because the panel of judges did a painstakingly thorough job in selecting the best from the final shortlist of three entries.
Chairman of the Panel of Judges, Prof. Ernest N. Emenyonu said: “The seriousness with which the NLNG literary prize is received by the teeming population of writers in Nigeria is a sign that the expectations of writers swing beyond the prize itself to that of portraying their creativity.
“The prestige, associated with the prize saw the 184 entries of collections of poetry in various sizes and of diverse themes and set the stage for the stiff competition. At the beginning, the initial weeding was carried out following one of the primary criteria; quality and validity of publication year.
“Oke’s poetry collection reveals a conscious/deliberate manipulation of language and philosophy in the style that reminds us of the writings of great Greek writers of Homeric and Hellenistic periods,” he added.
General Manager, External Relations at NLNG, Kudo Eresia-Eke, said: “We at NLNG are proud of this additional achievement. National and international interest in both the prize and process are increasing and this is good for the prize and for Nigeria. We are pleased with the judges’ verdict and Mr. Ikeogu Oke has demonstrated that he is a fine poet and Nigerians need to rally around and celebrate him. We must begin to build cultural icons, the likes of Professor Wole Soyinka and Professor Chinua Achebe, and this prize is the leading project doing this right now,” he said.
The number of entries for the 2017 edition exceeded the 2013 numbers in the same category, showing a six per cent increase in the number of entries received and increasing interest in one of the biggest literary prizes in the world. This has been the trend since 2005, the first time Poetry was in focus, and for which only 13 entries were received. The next four years would see an exponential growth in the number of entries with 160 entries in 2009 and 174 in 2013.”