Obari Gomba’s Grit wins $100,000 prize for NLNG Prize for Literature

The Associate Dean of Humanities at the University of Port Harcourt, and a Poet and playwright, Obari Gomba has won the Nigerian Prize for Literature 2023.
Gomba, who teaches Literature and Creative Writing at University of Port Harcourt, won with his Drama book, Grit.
He emerged from 145 entries, 11 Longlist and later Three Shortlist, beating two other playwrights in a fiercely contested finals at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, on October13, 2023.
The other playwrights are Abideen Abolaji Ojomu (Ojuelegba Crossroads) and The Sun, Henry Akubuiro who wrote the book Yamtarawala – The Warrior King.
With his victory, which is coming after five attempts at the prize, across three 11 Long lists and two Three Shortlists, Gomba takes home $100,000 grand Prize in the winner takes-it-all contest.
In his acceptance speech he commended the NLNG for the prize platform, which he said has positively impacted Nigerian literature and creative industry at large, while commending other two contestants, who he described as winners too.
Apart from the highly coveted Nigerian Prize for Literature, the NLNG also announced Eyoh Etim, a lecturer at Akwa Ibom State University, as winner of Literary Criticism Prize. Eyoh takes home $10, 000 for his literary prowess at the contest.
As well, Hippolite Amadi, a professor of Medical Engineering & Technology, Imperial College London, won the 2023 Nigerian Prize for Science.
Speaking during the ceremony, Philip Mshelbila, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria LNG Limited, noted that the 2023 prize ceremony holds on the theme ‘Redefinition’, in line with the need to reevaluate our priorities, visions and to push for change that will make the world a better place for businesses and humans.

The MD/CEO of NLNG noted that the authors have used the power of words to redefine values, institute change and call attention to things that need to be preserved in a fast-changing world.
He commended all the writers for exhibiting a high level of literary ingenuity, while assuring on sustained support for the prizes.

His words: “As part of efforts to reach our redefinition to make our nation great. The notion of time and space is central to re-definition as there is utmost urgency to safeguard life on earth. The time to act is now and all must unilaterally defend the world.
The Nigerian Prize for Science and Literature are all re-definition for excellence where we seek innovation.
“I commend all three shortlisted playwrights for their works and well done to the Advisory Board and the judges for their immense contributions to the prize.
Speaking on the 2023 theme of the science prize, “Innovations for Enhancement of Healthcare Therapy” is significant because of our nation.
Nigeria is in dire need of not just personnel but technology to enhance healthcare delivery system in our country and save lives.
Professor Hippolite  Amadi emerged at the winner of The 2023 Nigeria Prize for Science with his work entitled “Low-cost Respiratory Technologies for Keeping the Nigerians Neonates Alive”
He won $100,000 and the management of NLNG promised to purchase 24 units of the machines as part of her Corporate Social Responsibility to hospitals in the country.
In his acceptance speech, Prof. Amadi said ” I thank God for empowering me and keeping me alive. I thank NLNG for putting this event after they discovered me.
‘ This award is not a victory but it is the beginning of victory for 846 babies that die everyday.
My core message to the youths is that I want to create better Prof Amadi for them.
” The youths in this country can dream big, they can make like time challenges as I have demonstrated in the last 27 years. Today, we celebrate this dogged work, in 30 years time, we want to see these youths change this country positively.
For my students and mentees, as they have watched me work hard and tirelessly, I want them to be the best task masters in the next 10 years as they have nick-named me, because I know that they can do better me.
Prof Mohammed Sanusi, Emir of Kano and Special Guest of honour said
” Refinituon is some thing that should resonate through all of us and all our lives. NLNG is at a point where it can redefine Nigeria.
” One of the best values in our lives is to try to redefine the value of people in our lives.
The rate of inflation goes up and the Central Bank looks at the number. If you stablise the exchange rate, it is just for the number. Think of all the people who can pay their hospital bills and stay alive.
” For our leaders, is not time to redefine their roles and start thinking of their actions?
” Can you say after four or eight years im office, can you say, you have positively impacted on the lives of Nigerians?
I commend NLNG for promoting intellectual works and am proud that a Nigerian company is doing this for Nigerians.
” It is time for all of us as Nigerians to redefine our image.
NLNG is bringing these faces to light and I hope more Nigerians will be brought to light.
” Professor Amadi has not forgotten his roots and has used his knowledge to improve the country.
” Nigerians in the Diaspora should not condemn Nigeria but use their positions to redefine their roles. Before they put pen to paper, what is the implication of what they are writing, is it beneficial to Nigerians.
Chairman Advisory Board, Nigeria Prize for Literature, Prof. Akachi Ezigbo-Adimora in her speech said the final three entries all plays well written, edited and published.
The call for entries for 2024 circle will go out in 2024 and the genre is Children’s Literature.
The panel of judges and advisory board found one of the plays outstanding is worthy of the prize, Obari Gomba’s Grit has winner of this year’s Prize for Literature.
The winning book beat two other books on the shortlist of three.
After he was announced as winner of the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Literature,
The Nigeria Prize for Literature is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) and carries a cash award of $100,000. A total of 143 plays were entered for the competition, which focuses on drama.
A dance troupe, Dance Na The Main Thing” thrilled and entertained the audience with their various performances.
Also, Magic Wiz trilled the audience with his magical performances.
This same time four years ago in the Drama genre, Soji Cole (Embers), Denja Abdullahi (Death and The King’s Grey Hair) and Akanji Nasiru (The Rally) were announced in the 2018 Shortlist of Three. Soji Cole went on to win the Prize. Other playwrights who had been listed in the shortlist in previous years are Friday John Abba (Alekwu Night Dance), Jude Idada (Oduduwa, King of the Edos) and Sam Ukala (Iredi War – Winner) in 2014; Irobi Esiaba (Cemetery Road- Winner), Ahmed Yerima (Little Drops), and Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba (The Killing Swamp) in 2010; and Emeka Egwuda (Esoteric Dialogue), Femi Osofisan (Ajayi Crowther) and Ahmed Yerima (Hard Ground- Winner) in 2006.
Other members of the Advisory Board include Professor Olu Obafemi and Professor Ahmed Yerima.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.

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