Nigeria LNG Limited, NLNG, has announced the appointment of Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, emeritus professor of English at the University of Lagos, as the chairperson of the Advisory Board for the Nigeria Prize for Literature to flag off the 2021 cycle of the competition.
The new Board assumed duties on Wednesday as two hundred and two (202) entries in Prose Fiction carried over from 2020 into the 2021 cycle after the prize’s postponement due to the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) were handed over to a panel of judges to mark the start of the cycle.
A past winner of the Prize, Adimora-Ezigbo succeeds Ayo Banjo, emeritus professor of English at the University of Ibadan, who had served as chairman since the inception of the Prize in 2004. Adimora-Ezeigbo won the Prize in 2007 in the Children’s Literature category, alongside Mabel Segun. She has also served on the panel of judges for the prize.
Other members of the Advisory Board include Olu Obafemi and Ahmed Yerima. Obafemi is a playwright, poet and Professor of English at the University of Ilorin. He has served in prominent roles including as president of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and the Association of Nigerian Authors. Yerima is a professor of Theatre and Performing Arts at the Redeemer’s University. He is a playwright, theatre director and a Laureate of the Nigeria Prize for Literature in the Drama category (2006).
At a virtual ceremony held to introduce the new Advisory Board members and to hand-over the entries, NLNG’s General Manager for External Relations and Sustainable Development, Eyono Fatayi-Williams, expressed appreciation to Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo and Emeritus Professor Ben Elugbe for their selfless service to the prize. She noted that the outgoing Board, which included the late Professor Jerry Agada, oversaw the growth of the prize into Africa’s foremost literature competition best known for its principles of excellence and integrity.
Fatayi-Williams stated that the change to the Advisory Board was geared towards making the prize’s governance framework and brand stronger. She added that the new Advisory Board members are scholars who have distinguished themselves in their areas of specialisation and have contributed significantly to Literature in Nigeria. She said the new members will bring an enormous wealth of experience to the prize.
Fatayi-Williams further stated that the pandemic impacted on the established process of the prize, but that it also presented other opportunities on how literature can be marketed and consumed. She called on 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 Toyin Jegede who is a professor of Literature in English at the University of Ibadan. She is a Fellow of the British Council of Nigeria; Centre for Afro-American Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal; Comparative Literature Association, University of South Africa, Pretoria; among others. She has also served as an international panellist for the Commonwealth Book Prize for Literature.
The other judges are Tanimu Abubakar and Solomon Azumurana. Professor Abubakar is a Professor of Literature in the Faculty of Art, Ahmadu Bello University,
Zaria. He is also a member of Nigerian Academy of Letters. Azumurana is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Lagos.
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.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature, Africa’s most prestigious literary award, with a cash award of $100,000 rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature.
The 2022 cycle of the prize, focussed on poetry, will commence in February 2022 with a call for entries.