By Prisca Sam-Duru
THE 2019 edition of The Nigeria Prize for Literature competition, focusing on Children’s literature reached its grande finale yesterday night, with “Boom Boom”, authored by Jude Idada, declared winner of the 2019 Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) prize money of $100,000.
At his third attempt at winning the prestigious prize, Idada was declared winner out of 173 entries received in March 2019, and was rewarded with the prize money of N36,000,000 for his book, “Boom Boom”, at an award night held, on October 11, 2019, in Abuja.
“Boom Boom” by Jude Idada, “Highlights a common health issue in Nigeria, Sickle Cell Anaemia, and with it the pain, love and bonds of friendship that come with the daily struggles of the victims in fascinating and capturing storytelling. The book unveils the world of an eight year old boy who tries to find a way of saving his sister from Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease that claimed the life of his mother.”
In his emotional speech, Idada dedicated the NLNG prize to “everyone living with sickle cell anaemia” who he described as warriors.
He also dedicated the award to his niece, nicknamed Boom Boom, whom he disclosed, inspired the book.
“This award is for everyone; the last three finalists, the 12-year-old girl that was also a contender and one of those cheering me all the way. We will keep winning.”
With Idada’s feat, comes a great relief after no winner emerged in 2015 of the same Children literature Prize edition.
Idada emerged winner from a longlist of eleven which was later prunned down last September, to a final shortlist of three namely; Boom Boom, Mystery at Ebenezer Lodge and The Great Walls of Benin.
The announcement was made at NLNG’s 20-30 Anniversary Ball and Award Night in Abuja by Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, Chairman of the Advisory Board. The event commemorates NLNG’s 30 years anniversary of incorporation, 20 years of safe and reliable production and delivery of LNG from its six-train plant on Bonny Island and 15 years of sponsoring the Nigeria Prize for Literature.
The occasion was graced by Senate President Ahmed Lawal; the Amanyanabo of Bonny Kingdom, His Majesty, King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, Perekule XI; NLNG’s Board of Directors, led by Chief Osobonye R. LongJohn, the Board’s Chairman; NLNG’s past Managing Directors and Deputy Managing Directors of NLNG; NLNG’s Management Team led by Tony Attah, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer and Sadeeq Mai-Bornu, Deputy Managing Director; as well as other dignitaries.
While delivering the judges’ report, the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Prize, Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, two-time Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan, said “based on standard criteria such as literary merit, appeal of content to the target audience, social relevance of the subject matter explored, and a unique capacity to communicate pain and its relief as a human social and natural experience in a way that children can understand and relate with, “Boom Boom”, was declared as the winning entry.” He reiterated the commitment of the Board toward retaining the high literary standards of the prize, which according to him, remains the most prestigious literary prize in Africa.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. This year’s is for children’s literature while 2020 edition of the competition will focus on prose fiction.
In his welcome address, Tony Attah, NLNG’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, said the management and staff of NLNG, inspired by the Company’s vision of being a global LNG company, maintained international best practices in operations and safely & reliably delivered LNG cargoes around the world without harm to humans or the environment to earn a prominent place in the global market.
“We must plug into the opportunities for more economic growth and for a more central role in global LNG supply as we look to increase our capacity with Train 7 on board. This will further reduce gas flaring in the country and assure our continued supply of LPG to the local market,” He said.
On the prizes, Attah remarked that the company was also celebrating 15 years of successful administration of the Science and Literature prizes, saying “these past years have been an arduous journey but most definitely very fulfilling for us and I believe for the country as well. I say so unequivocally because thanks to the prizes, our nation now boasts of scientific breakthroughs and famous works on Poetry, Prose, Drama and Children’s Literature that have earned the prizes a reputation as the most prestigious prizes in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Deputy Managing Director, Sadeeq Mai-Bornu, in his remarks, expressed appreciation to all the company’s stakeholders for the successes recorded over the years, adding that through partnership with all the levels of government, NLNG has been able to progress towards achieving Train 7, as well as the advancement of Corporate Social Responsibility goals.
Nigeria LNG Limited remains committed to responsible corporate citizenship, and The Nigeria Prize for Science and The Nigeria Prize for Literature are some of the company’s numerous contributions towards building a better Nigeria.