Prof. Obari Gomba, an English and Literary Studies lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Henry Akubuiro, a journalist and Abideen Ojomu, an engineer have emerged as the last three finalists for the 2023 Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) Prize for literature.
The three emerged after judges considered their plays, Grit (Gomba), Yamtarawala, the Warrior King (Akubuiro), and The Ojuelegba Crossroads (Ojomu) the best out of the 11 that earlier emerged on the long list. The winner will take home a handsome prize of $100,000 (N90 million).
The three playwrights were hosted to a reception in Port Harcourt last Sunday at the Port Harcourt BookFest 2023 by Rainbow Book Club and NLNG.
It’s the fifth time that Gomba is competing in the finals and there are strong indications that the prize may come to Port Harcourt the home of NLNG. Port Harcourt was voted the World Book Capital in 2014.
Ijeoma Aruba, who represented Koko Kalango, the founder of Rainbow Book Club, spoke of the need to return Port Harcourt to its former status of World Book capital by restoring the Port Harcourt Book Festival, “fertile ground for ideas and gathering of writers and readers.”
Mr. Andy Udeh, the general manager, external relations of NLNG, congratulated the finalists for making the shortlist. He said 143 entries were considered from which 11 were picked from the long list. He said the winner will be announced at the ceremony on October 13, 2023.
Udeh disclosed that there has been an improvement in the quality of books submitted for entries and that many of the books that have been adopted for use in schools, and many others have been adapted n the domain of entertainment.
During the interactive session, the authors spoke of their motivations and what they would use the prize money for if they win.
Guests at the event included the vice-chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Owunari Georgewill, former national president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Onueze Okocha, director general of Rivers State Tourism Board, Mr. Yibo Koko, eminent actor and theatre lecturer, Sam Dede, curator Nigerian Literary Society, Dave Chukwueke, and choreographer and theatre producer, Dan Kpodoh.