Nigeria LNG (NLNG) Limited on Tuesday formally presented The Nigeria Prize for Literature and accompanying cash prize of $100,000 to the 2016 winner, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, at a Public Presentation ceremony in Abuja.
Ibrahim’s entry, Season of Crimson Blossoms, emerged from 172 other entries to claim the prize in October 2016.
Present at the well-attended event, were the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, representing the Federal Government; the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, represented by the Group General Manager, LNG Investments Services (NNPC), Bola Afolabi; the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright; NLNG Management; members of the Advisory Board; Judges; Lawyer, Poet and previous prize winner Tade Ipadeola, the media as well as invitees from the Nigerian literary community in Abuja.
Tony Attah, managing director and chief executive officer, NLNG, in his keynote remarks, said “the journey to this day began some 12 years ago in Lagos, when the inaugural edition of Nigeria Prize for Literature kicked off in search of uniqueness and excellence; and looking for our real identity as a people, using the vehicle of literary brilliance and creativity. This journey is similar to that undertaken by NLNG. Over 50 years ago, the idea of this company was muted; but it remained an idea for several decades before eventually coming to life. There were several failed attempts spanning several administrations and it sometimes appeared that this idea was jinxed from the word go.
“There was no shortage of opinions, some of which expressed the belief that Nigeria could not achieve the ambition of becoming an LNG producer nation. However, NLNG was eventually incorporated in 1989 and Nigeria’s dream of owning an LNG company and taking a stronger, more central role within the global energy community began to take shape. With several strategic legal and other instruments put in place to make this work, including the NLNG Act, aspiration became reality, and since then it has been one success story after the other.
“My whole point here is that Nigeria LNG has proved that the rightful place for Nigeria and indeed Nigerians, remains as they say, “up there” with the very best, and I say this without fear of contradiction. Today, twelve years down the road, we are here to repeat our message and demonstrate our core vision of helping to build a better Nigeria,” he added.
Lai Mohammed, in his goodwill message urged for more support from the private sector in transforming the creative industry into a creative economy. He said: “we have failed to transit from a creative industry to a creative economy because there is no meeting of minds between the private sector and the creative industry. I think it is the government that can provide this bridge. I enjoin NLNG to join hands with government in ensuring that the intellectual properties of all our writers are protected.”
The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, represented by the Group General Manager, LNG Investments Services (NNPC), Bola Afolabi, in his remarks commended the leadership of NLNG for sponsoring the prize which has encouraged literary work among Nigerian writers, adding that NNPC is very proud to be associated with prize.
In his acceptance speech, Ibrahim commended NLNG for its sponsorship and support for the Nigeria Prize for Literature, saying “It is certainly a great privilege to have been so honoured with the Nigeria Prize for Literature and the attendant financial incentive, for which I am truly grateful. But the greatest triumph today is the light of belief I have seen kindled in the floundering hearts of those who previously thought there was a glass ceiling over their heads because of their background, because of the sounds of their names or what part of the world they come from. If you believe, the only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals is you and no one else.”
Ibrahim is the Arts Editor at Media Trust Limited and the second journalist to win the prize, the first being Adeleke Adeyemi. Adeleke won the prize in 2011 for his children’s literature, The Missing Clock.
Ibrahim writings received broader attention in 2012 when he published his collection of short stories, The Whispering Trees, to critical acclaim. Season of Crimson Blossoms is his first novel. He is a recipient of several prizes and fellowships.
Past winners of the laurel include Gabriel Okara for Chants of a Minstrel and Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, now late, for The Dreamer, His Vision. Both were joint winners for the award in 2005. Ahmed Yerima’s Hard Ground won the competition for drama in 2006, and in 2007, the race for the prize in the children’s literature category again produced joint winners in Mabel Segun for Reader’s Theatre and Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo for My Cousin Sammy. Kaine Agary’s Yellow Yellow won for prose in 2008 and in 2010, Esiaba Irobi, clinched the prize posthumously with his drama titled Cemetery Road. Chika Unigwe in 2012 for prose with her novel, On Black Sister’s Street and in 2013, Tade Ipadeola for poetry, with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testaments. In 2014, Professor Sam Ukala won for drama with his play, Iredi War.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. The 2016 Prize is for prose fiction and comes with a cash prize of $100, 000. Next year’s prize will be for poetry.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature and The Nigeria Prize for Science are some of Nigeria LNG Limited’s numerous contributions towards building a better Nigeria.