A total of 89 writers are competing for the 2018 edition of the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas -sponsored Prize for Literature.
The sponsors of the prize announced this during a formal ceremony held in Lagos.
At the ceremony, the entries were handed over to the Advisory Board of the Prize signifying the beginning of the selection process.
The process will culminate in the announcement of the winner in October.
The Deputy Managing Director of the company, Sadeeq Mai-Bornu, represented by Acting Manager, Community Relations, Godson Dienye, handed over the entries to the Advisory Board of the prize.
An emeritus professor, Ayo Banjo, heads the Advisory Board for the literature prize.
Other members are former Minister of State for Education, Jerry Agada, and former president of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, Ben Elugbe, an emeritus professor.
Mr. Dienye noted, “We have received 89 entries this year; lower than what we had in 2014 when drama was also in focus. We must change this trend. All stakeholders must begin to own the prize as theirs and push it to greater heights. We also received two entries for the Literary Criticism Award competition, which unfortunately appears not to attract many entries.
“I consider this as a huge gap in Nigeria’s Literacy space. To the judges, I urge you to demonstrate your usual proficiency in administering and adjudicating the process, knowing that the world is earnestly waiting for your announcement of another legendary work.”
He added that the entries would be examined on their merits of excellence in language, creativity and book quality.
The entries were subsequently handed over to the panel of judges led by Matthew Umukoro of the University of Ibadan.
Other members of the panel include Mohammed Buratai of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Ngozi Udengwu of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
This year’s award will run concurrently with NLNG’s Prize for Literary Criticism for which only two entries were received for this year’s competition.
A former journalist, Ikeogu Oke won the $100,000 literature prize money six months ago.
Oke’s collection of poems, The Heresiad, came tops from among 184 entries received for the competition.
The Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Limited-sponsored Prize for Literature is Africa’s most prestigious literary award with a cash reward of $100,000.
It rotates yearly amongst four literary categories of Prose fiction, Poetry, Drama and Children’s Literature.
This year’s award is focused on Drama.