Nnanke Harry Willie
It was a blissful burst of poetry on a cool Sunday afternoon, on August 7, 2022 at 2pm as the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) hosted the cream of Nigerian literary giants, especially the poets and other well-heeled guests to a star-studded event at the prestigious MUSON Centre in Lagos aptly tagged CORA-The Nigeria Prize for Literature Book Party, 2022.
The General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Mr. Andy Odey set the tone in his welcome remarks when he said that Nigeria was richly endowed not only with natural resources but with great human resources. He observed that the NLNG’s ethos is steeped in the deep traditions and culture of excellence, that is identifying, promoting, celebrating and rewarding excellence. This is why the company has continued to play critical and pivotal roles in its immediate area of operations and the Nigerian community at large.
Odey explained that the day was meant to showcase and unleash the creative geniuses of the 11 poets who made the longlist for the 2022 edition. He also explained that the CORA-The Nigeria Prize for Literature Book Party series was conceptualized because of the input of critical stakeholders in the literature community who believed that an event of this nature was important to the build-up of the reveal event where the winner is announced.
The event lived up to its billing as guests were held spell-bound and thrilled by the coven of poets with varied masterful renditions of selected poems and passages from their rich and steaming repertoire. Things were further spiced up with rich Nigerian dance and music performed by an ensemble of talented and energetic artistes. It was indeed both breathtaking and exhilarating.
The quality of the show affirmed once again NLNG’s belief that The Nigerian Prize for Literature and the Nigerian Prize for Literary criticism will improve the quality of writing, editing, proofreading and publishing in the country. NLNG is also achieving its aim of stimulating interest in the reading and appreciation of Nigerian literature and the promotion of critical thinking. With this exciting teaser, the October event where the announcement of the winner and presentation of USD100,000 will take place is sure to be a festival of thrills and bliss.
The award ceremony is usually held in the month of October. This is to commemorate the milestone of the export of Nigeria’s first-ever LNG cargo by NLNG on October 9, 1999, barely five months into Nigeria’s latest democratic journey.
The poets on parade at the event were adjudged the best 11 out of a crowd of 287 entries for this year. They include Augusta’s Poodle by Ogaga Ifowodo; Coming Undone As Stitches Tighten by Iquo Diana Abasi (the only female on the longlist); Dispossessed by James Eze; Ife Testament by Olusegun Adekoya; Memory and the Call of Waters by S. Su’eddie Agema; Nomad by Romeo Oriogun; The Lilt of The Rebel by Obari Gomba; The Love Canticles by Chijioke Amu Nnadi; Wanderer Cantos by Remi Raji; Yawns and Belches by Joe Ushie; Your Crib, My Qibla by Saddiq Dzukogi.
The longlist was presented to the Advisory Board in July by the Chairman, Panel of Judges for this year’s prize, Sule Emmanuel Egya, a professor of African Literature and Cultural Studies at Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State. Other judges are Toyin Adewale-Gabriel, celebrated poet and fiction writer and Dike Chukwumerije, Nigeria’s star of the spoken word, poet and award-winning author. The judges had to sift through every single entry before arriving at the longlist of eleven which they asserted embodied the best of contemporary Nigerian poetry, rich in experimentation with language, style and theme.
No doubt, as Nigerians celebrate the eventual winner in October, NLNG will also be deserving of being well celebrated for its unique and consistent CSR branding strategy which has been a Bull’s eye in not just the oil and gas industry but also made it stand tall among other corporate institutions in the country.
October is also a special month for Nigeria as well. and as the country celebrates its 62nd Independence anniversary. Nigerians have corporate organisations like NLNG to thank for providing a source of inspiration and pride amidst the yawning challenges that we constantly seem to be struggling with. Its 5-star performance in its core business and social interventions is a clear reminder to the world that Nigerians can be the best in any field of their choosing with determination and focus.