Ikeogu Oke has emerged winner of the 2017 Nigeria Prize for Literature.
The Advisory Board of the prize, which is valued at $100,000 and sponsored by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited, announced the verdict at a press conference held in Lagos on Monday.
Oke’s collection of poems entitled, The Heresiad, beat Ogaga Ifowodo’s A Good Mourning, Tanure Ojaide’s Songs of Myself: Quartet to claim the prize after an intensive adjudication process.
Commenting on this year’s contest, the Chairman of the Advisory Board, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo, said, “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.”
A total of 184 poetry collections were received for this year’s competition. 101 collections were disqualified at the initial combined sitting of the Advisory Board and the panel of judges for not meeting the basic and fundamental guidelines. Then a long list of 11 entries was announced before the final shortlist of three.
The decision on the winning entry of The Nigeria Prize for Literature was reached by a panel of judges, led by Prof. Ernest Emenyonu, professor of Africana Studies at the University of Michigan-Flint, USA.
Emenyonu, in a statement, described Oke’s winning entry as a bold and wonderful experiment whose great strength also could have been its great weakness.
Reacting to the verdict, the General Manager, External Relations at NLNG, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, said, “We at NLNG are proud of this additional achievement. National and international interest in both the Prize and process is increasing and this is good for the prize and for Nigeria.
“We are pleased with the judges’ verdict and Mr Ikeogu Okehas 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.