The Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) has appointed Emeritus Professor of English, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, as the chairperson of the Advisory Board for the Nigeria Prize for Literature to kick-start the 2021 cycle.
The new board assumed duties on Wednesday as 202 entries in Prose Fiction carried over from 2020 into the 2021 cycle after the prize’s postponement due to the COVID-19 were handed over to a panel of judges to mark the start of the cycle.
With a cash award of $100,000, the prize rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature.
A past winner of the prize, Prof. Adimora-Ezigbo succeeds Prof. Ayo Banjo, emeritus professor of English at the University of Ibadan (UI), who served as chairman since the inception of the prize in 2004.
The new chairperson won the prize in 2007 in the Children’s Literature category, alongside Mabel Segun and has also served on the panel of judges for the prize.
Other members of the Advisory Board include Prof. Olu Obafemi and Prof. Ahmed Yerima.
At a virtual ceremony to introduce the new Advisory Board members and to hand over the entries, NLNG’s General Manager for External Relations and Sustainable Development, Mrs. Eyono Fatayi-Williams, expressed appreciation to Emeritus Professors Banjo and Ben Elugbe for their selfless service to the prize.
She said the outgoing board, which included the late Prof. Jerry Agada, oversaw the growth of the prize into Africa’s foremost literature competition best known for its principles of excellence and integrity.
“The change to the Advisory Board was geared towards making the prize’s governance framework and brand stronger; the new Advisory Board members are scholars who have distinguished themselves in their areas of specialisation and have contributed significantly to Literature in Nigeria. The new members will bring an enormous wealth of experience to the prize,” she said.
Mrs. Fatayi-Williams noted that the pandemic impacted on the established process of the prize, saying it also presented other opportunities on how literature could be marketed and consumed.
She advised writers to seize the moment, stating that it was time to push out creative works as people spend more time at home, reading.
The entries were handed over to the current panel of judges led by Prof. Toyin Jegede, who is a professor of Literature in English at the University of Ibadan.
The other judges are: Prof. Tanimu Abubakar and Dr. Solomon Azumurana.
The 2022 cycle of the prize, focused on poetry, will commence in February 2022 with a call for entries.
The prize runs concurrently with the Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism (also sponsored by NLNG) for which four entries were received in 2020.
The literary criticism prize carries a monetary value of N1 million.