By Prisca Sam-Duru

The 184 entries selected to compete for this year’s edition of the prestigious Nigeria Prize for Literature, sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited, NLNG, were handed over to the Advisory Board of the prize.

NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke and Chairman of the Advisory Board,  Professor AyÍ BanjÍ, during the hand-over ceremony in Lagos.

The entries for 2017 edition which focuses on poetry were formally handed over to the Board on Tuesday at a ceremony in Lagos.

The hand-over of the entries to the Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, marked the take-off of the judging process which is expected to climax in October 2017 when a winner will emerge. Other members of the Board include Prof. Jerry Agada, former Minister of State for Education and Professor Emeritus Ben Elugbe, former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters.

While handing over the entries, NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, disclosed that since the inception of the prize in 2004, it has inspired about 1,630 books of which 533, representing 32 per cent, were submitted in the poetry category.

“The number of entries for the 2017 edition exceeded the 2016 numbers, showing a six percent rise in the number of entries received and increasing interest in one of the biggest literary prize in the world. This has been the trend since 2005.

“We believe that the prize has inspired writers to want to deliberately win the prize. This has led to the proliferation of books and increased the quality of books. The spiralling effect of this is the boost to literacy and education in the country, the foundation of cultural and socio-economic revolution. The impact of the prize is easily discernible and we believe that it supports our vision to help build a better Nigeria,” he said.

The entries will be judged in respect of their merits of excellence in language, creativity and book quality.

And from Prof Ayo Banjo, the entries were in turn, handed over to the panel of judges led by Professor Ernest Emenyonu, a professor of African Studies at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Other judges are Dr Razinat Mohammed, an Associate Professor of Literature at the University of Maiduguri and Tade Ipadeola , a poet and lawyer who won the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2013 in the Poetry category with his third volume of poetry, The Sahara Testament.

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