The Advisory Board of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, an annual competition sponsored by NLNG has announced Ikeogu Oke as the winner of the 2017 edition.
The Chairman of the board, Ayo Banjo, made this known during a press conference in Lagos.
The winner of the award goes home with a cash prize of $100, 000.
Ikeogu Oke’s collection of poems, The Heresiad, came tops from among 184 entries received for the competition.
According to Mr. Banjo, the competition for the prize was very fierce and 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Panel of Judges, Ernest Emenyonu said most writers in Nigeria are now portraying their creativity which is an improvement in the literary sector.
“The seriousness with which the NLNG literary prize is received by the teeming population of writers in Nigeria is a sign that the expectations of writers swing beyond the prize itself to that of portraying their creativity.”
He said the benchmarks for selecting the winner among the 184 entries which were in various sizes and had diverse themes were quality and validity of publication year.
“Oke’s poetry collection reveals a conscious manipulation of language and philosophy in the style that reminds us of the writings of great Greek writers of Homeric and Hellenistic periods,” he said.
Similarly, the General Manager, External Relations at NLNG, Kudo Eresia-Eke, said Nigeria must begin to build cultural icons adding that the Prize is the leading project in achieving it.
“Mr. Ikeogu Oke has demonstrated that he is a fine poet and Nigerians need to celebrate him and we must try to build cultural icons like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe, ” he concluded.
Mr. Oke was the standards editor and deputy editor (arts and culture) at the now rested NEXT newspaper.
He holds a BA in English and Literary Studies from the University of Calabar, and an MA in Literature from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The number of entries for the 2017 edition exceeded the 2013 numbers in the same category, showing a six per cent increase in the number of entries received and increasing interest in one of the biggest literary prizes in the world.
This has been the trend since 2005, the first time Poetry was in focus, and for which only 13 entries were received. The next four years would see an exponential growth in the number of entries with 160 entries in 2009 and 174 in 2013.”
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly among four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature.