The Nigeria Prize for Science and The Nigeria Prize for Literature are sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited. The prizes are aimed at bringing Nigerian scientists and authors to public attention and celebrating excellence in scientiﬁc breakthroughs and literary accomplishments in the nation.
NLNG believes that the science prize will provide leaders with answers to crucial issues in development; improve the standards of living and re-energise the scientiﬁc community to seek solutions to national problems. With The Nigeria Prize for Literature, it is expected that the quest for a prestigious prize will improve the quality of writing, editing, proof-reading, and publishing in the country with far-reaching positive effect on print and broadcast journalism.
The prizes are administered, on behalf of Nigeria LNG Limited, by the Nigerian Academy of Science and the Advisory Board for Literature made up of members of Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) and the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). Winners are announced in October, commemorating the ﬁrst export of LNG cargo by NLNG on October 9, 1999.
At inception in 2004, the monetary reward was USD20, 000, which was increased in 2006 to USD30, 000. In 2008, it was again upped to USD50, 000. In 2011, yet another signiﬁcant change in the administration led to the increment of the monetary reward to USD100, 000 for each of the prizes.
In 2004, Professor Akpoveta Susu and his then doctoral student (now doctor) Kingsley Abhulimen, both of the University of Lagos, won the maiden edition of the science prize. They won based on their work Real-Time Computer Assisted Leak Detection/Location Reporting and Inventory Loss Monitoring System which was described by the judges as an outstanding contribution to research in real-time leak detection in a network of pipelines, or other ﬂow systems, carrying liquids. That year, there was no winner for the literature prize (Prose Fiction). However, three authors, Bina Nengi-Ilagha, Omo Uwaifo and Prof Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, received honourable mention for their efforts.
In 2005, there was no winner for the science prize whilst joint winners emerged for the literature prize which focused on Poetry. Ezenwa Ohaeto and Gabriel Okara were rewarded for their books Chants of a Minstrel and The Dreamer: His Vision respectively.
Professor Micheal Adikwu in 2006 showed in his winning work, Wound Healing Devices (Formulations) Containing Snail Mucin, that snail mucins can play a key role in the pharmaceutical industry as a drug delivery agent. Dr Ahmed Yerima claimed the prize in literature (drama) for his book Hard Ground.
In 2007, as in 2005, there was no winner for the science prize and joint winners emerged for the children’s literature. Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and Mabel Segun emerged joint winners with their books, My Cousin Sammy and Readers’ Theatre: Twelve Plays for Young People respectively.
Dr Ebenezer Meshida emerged winner of the 2008 science prize with his work Solution to Road Pavement Destabilisaion by the Invention of ‘Lateralite’: A Stabilisation Flux for Fine Grained Lateritic Soils which will make Nigerian roads durable through the elimination of potholes and gullies. The literature prize in 2008 returned to Prose Fiction. Kaine Agary won with her ﬁrst book, Yellow Yellow.
Professor Andrew Nok won the science prize in 2009 for his ground-breaking discovery of the gene responsible for the creation of Sialidase (SD), an enzyme which causes sleeping sickness (Trypanosomiasis). No winner emerged for the literature prize.
The decision of the judges not to award the literature prize in 2009 precipitated signiﬁcant changes in its administration. Nine poets were shortlisted for the literature prize, but by the time the judges were done with their work that year, no winner emerged. This attracted reactions from the Nigerian literary community worldwide. Rising to the occasion as a truly listening company, Nigeria LNG Limited convened a stakeholders’ engagement forum to examine and improve the prize administration protocols. Consequently, the prize was opened up to Nigerians everywhere in the world and the names of the judges, hitherto kept secret, were made public. The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since grown to be Africa’s most prestigious reward for literary excellence. It is ranked among the world’s top 100 in prize money.
Professor Akahehomen O. Akii Ibhadode was crowned winner of the science prize in 2010 for his work on the development of a new method in Die Design. That year, the prize continued its circle with drama as the genre in focus. The literature prize got its ﬁrst post-humous winner, Dr Esiaba Irobi, who won the prize with his play Cemetery Road. He died after submitting his work for the competition.
In 2011, Adeleke Adeyemi, emerged winner of the literature prize. Writing with the pen name, Mai Nasara, Mr. Adeyemi won with his book The Missing Clock in the children’s literature category, the genre in spotlight that year. The judges described the book as one that celebrates “ingenuity, hard work and sparkles in its prose.” There was no winner for science that year.
In 2012, prose ﬁction was back in the spotlight for the literature prize. Chika Unigwe beat 213 authors to the prize with her book On Black Sisters’ Street. She became the second foreign based author to win the prize. 2013 literature competition focused on poetry. From a total of 201 submissions, Tade Ipadeola’s The Sahara Testaments emerged the winning entry. No winner emerged for science in 2012. However, a stakeholder engagement session was organised by NLNG in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Science and the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja. At the moment, the science prize is undergoing reviews with the aim to re-position it as the award of choice among scientists.
In 2014, Iredi War by Sam Ukala was announced as the winning entry for the year’s edition of the prize. Iredi War emerged from a list of 124 entries in 2014. In 2015, another year for Children’s literature, the prize judges ruled that none of the entries was worthy of the prize. The prize money was thus utilized to fund a workshop for children’s literature authors later in the year.
A year after, in 2016, the Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Science was re-constituted, to re-positioning the prize for better impact on living standards in the country. The Advisory Board was re-constituted following a review by NLNG and has the following as members: Professor Alfred Susu, past winner of the Nigeria Prize for Science; Professor Michael Adikwu, another past winner of the science prize; Professor Elijah Mshelia, a nuclear physicist; Professor Barth Nnaji, renowned scientist and former Minister of Power; and Chief Dr. Nike Akande, Industrialist and President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The prize also opened up for competition and invited entries to seek solution to the Malaria scourge under a competition theme “Innovation on Malaria Control”. After a nine-month ajudication process, the Advisory Board announced on the 12th of October 2016 that the search for solutions to the Malaria scourge will be extended into 2017 to allow for more quality entries. This is the first of such decision in the history of the prizes.
On the same day, the Literature Prize Advisory Board declared Seasons of Crimsons Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim as the winning entry for the 2016 edition of the prize.
In 2017, the tradition continued. The Advisory Board of the Nigeria Prize for Literature announced “The Heresiad” by Ikeogu Oke as the winner of the 2017 edition of the prize after an intensive process of adjudication. For the science prize, after seven years of no winner, three researches on theme “Innovations in Malaria Control” clinched the award for 2017. They are:
“Improving Home and Community Management of Malaria: Providing the Evidence Base” by Ikeoluwapo Ajayi, Ayodele Jegede & Bidemi Yusuf
“Multifaceted Efforts at Malaria Control in Research: Management of Malaria of Various Grades and Mapping Artemisinin Resistance” by Olugbenga Mokuolu;
“Novel lipid microparticles for effective delivery of Artemether antimalarial drug using a locally-sourced Irvingia fat from nuts of Irvingia gabonensis var excelsa (ogbono)” by Chukwuma Agubata
The theme for The Nigeria Prize for Science changed in 2018 from malaria to “Innovations in Electric Power Solutions”. Dr Peter Ngene, an assistant professor in the Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis group of the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science, Utrecht University in The Netherlands, beat 84 other scientists to win the prize in 2018. His entry “Nanostructured metal hydrides for the storage of electric power from renewable energy sources and for explosion prevention in high voltage power transformers” was adjudged the best electric power solutions. In the same year, Soji Cole, a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, beat two others on the shortlist of three, to pick up the $100, 000 cheque accompanying The Nigeria Prize for Literature. A third prize was awarded, however, to Professor Isidora Diala, for the best entry for The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism, worth N1 million.