By SOLOMON ASOWATA
LAGOS- The Nigeria LNG (NLNG) Ltd has explained its choice of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to present the 2022 Nigerian Prize for Literature to the winners.
A statement on the company’s website on Friday said the choice amplified the key messages and joint ambitions of the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Science and the Nigeria Prize for Literature.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presentation will take place today (Friday).
The statement said the former president symbolised resilient passion for farming and literature, two hobbies that were ancillary to his major military career.
It added that Obasanjo represented the virtue of excellence expounded by the NLNG in building a better Nigeria.
“Incidentally, despite successful military and political careers that produced him as a Nigerian Head of State and President at different times, Obasanjo’s fame and glory are hosted in his investments in commercial farming and pile of books that emerge from his creative endeavours,” it said.
According to the statement, the quest for food security formed the challenge for Nigerian scientists and innovators in the 2022 Nigeria Prize Science which produced the twin sets of winners.
It said: “The first set of winners comprising Muhydideen Oyekunle and Shehu Ado worked on Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivated Under Drought and Well-Watered Conditions.
“The second set of winners comprising Sesan Ayodeji and Emmanuel Olatomilola worked on `Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour`. “
“According to the judges, the maize seeds produced in the breeding programme by Oyekunle and Ado have been tested to be high yielding and water-stress tolerant.
“The judges said the hybrids they selected recorded yields of 1.73-2.51 t/ha in stress areas and 5-6 t/ha in areas with good rainfall distribution in farmers fields.
“They also adjudged the process plant for plantain flour developed by Ayodeji and Olatomilola to be resourceful in scaling up from batch production to industrial scale continuous flour production relevant beyond plantain to other food items.”
The statement said essentially the two sets of winners for the Nigerian Prize for Science worked on the theme of food security by investigating enhanced crop yield and developing machine tools for food processing and preservation.
It said similarly the Obasanjo Farms, owned and operated, by Obasanjo deployed modern technologies and competent approach to produce more food and enhance profitability.
The statement said the prize was initiated and propelled as a corporate social responsibility by the NLNG Limited to sharpen the skills of writers in the media, literary and theatre professions.
It said the intervention became necessary in response to noticeable decline in the quality of output from the industries that relied on creative writers.
According to the statement, Nigeria became the first in Africa to produce a Nobel Laureate in Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
It said the country also produced one of the most decorated authors in the world, Prof. Chinua Achebe, whose book, “Things Fall Apart“, translated into more than 61 languages, has been listed by Encyclopaedia Britannica as one of 12 novels considered the greatest books ever written.
“Then there are the great legacies of other Nigerian writers such as Ben Okri, Cyprian Ekwensi, Femi Osofisan, Gabriel Okara, Christopher Okigbo, Chukwuemeka Ike, Flora Nwapa, among others,” the statement said.
It added that their writings were compelling and helped to positively shape what people knew about Nigeria.
“It, therefore, became evident to us at the Nigeria LNG that a well-run literary prize with transparent adjudication process, administered by respected academics, writers and lovers of literature, and with respectable monetary reward will spur creativity.
“It will also contribute to the improvement of the quality of writing, editing and publishing in Nigeria.
The statement said: “Thus, with the challenge and rewards from the NLNG Limited, the muse has been reinvented and creative flow was reactivated, leading to 18 years of annual literary tournament that has churned out over 1,851 entries in 16 competitions that produced 12 winning manuscripts since its commencement in 2004.
“The flow of manuscripts is sustained by competing writers who are primarily motivated by the $100,000, or about N70 million, prize money to churn out innumerable print-worthy narrative endeavors.
“Whereas only the best works in the annual competitions win prizes, hundreds of entries have been declared excellent jobs by judges.
“The life changing prize, the opportunity and spur for creative expression, the quest for recognition in a highly esteemed creative group and the contribution to preserving the reading culture all combine to transform the Nigeria Prize for Literature into a Nigerian intellectual brand with global standards.“ (NAN)