By Adedapo Adesanya
Author Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is the winner of the $100,000 NLNG Literature Prize for 2021.
Ms Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s novel, The Son of the House, was announced the winner at a ceremony held on Saturday night, as she beat others shortlisted in an 11-man list.
The Advisory Board had in July announced the shortlist of 11 drawn from 202 books in the running for the 2021 edition of the prize.
The 11 books on the shortlist, in alphabetical order by the title of the book were:
1. Delusion of Patriots, Obianuju V. Chukwuorji
2. Give Us Each Day, Samuel Monye
3. Imminent River, Anaele Ihuoma
4. In The Name of Our Father, Olukorede S. Yishau
5. Mountain of Yesterday, Tony Nwaka
6. Neglected, Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma
7. The Colours of Hatred, Obinna Udenwa
8. The Girl with The Louding Voice, Abi Dare
9. The Return of Half- Something, Chukwudi Eze
10. The Son of The House, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
11. Your Church My Shrine, Law Ikay Ezeh.
The list was presented by the Chairman, Panel of Judges for this year’s Nigeria Prize for Literature, Professor Toyin Jegede, who is a professor of Literature in English at the University of Ibadan.
The other judges were Professor Tanimu Abubakar and Dr Solomon Azumurana. Professor Abubakar is a Professor of Literature in the Faculty of Art, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Dr Azumurana is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Lagos.
The judges described the shortlist as fresh approaches to looking at issues, using new and exciting narrative strategies, techniques and well-written organic plots to present topical discussions in realistic ways.
The judges stated that there has been a visible improvement in writing skills and commended Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) for giving writers the platform to blossom and experiment.
According to the Chairperson of the prize’s Advisory Board, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, the board unanimously agreed that the shortlist of 11 was an excellent list.
She expressed her appreciation to the judges for a thorough job in selecting the shortlist. She stated that excellence was the watchword of the prize, adding that the onus was on the Advisory Board to continue in the tradition that was handed to them by the past board.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2004 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2005, poetry) for The Dreamer, His Vision; Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his volume of poetry, Chants of a Minstrel (co-winner, 2005, poetry); Ahmed Yerima (2005, drama) for his classic, Hard Ground; Mabel Segun (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary with her book, Yellow Yellow (2008, prose); Esiaba Irobi (2010, drama) who clinched the prize posthumously with his book Cemetery Road; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011, children’s literature) with his book The Missing Clock; Chika Unigwe (2012, prose), with her novel, On Black Sister’s Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013, poetry) with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testaments; Professor Sam Ukala (2014, drama) with his play, Iredi War; Abubakar Adam Ibrahim with his novel Season of Crimson Blossoms (2016, prose); Ikeogu Oke with his collection of poetry, The Heresiad; (2017, poetry); Soji Cole with his play, Embers (2018, drama); and Jude Idada with his book, Boom, Boom (2019, Children Literature).
The Nigeria Prize for Literature runs concurrently with the Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism (also sponsored by NLNG), for which four entries were received in 2020. The literary criticism prize carries a monetary value of N1 million.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.
A shortlist of three is expected in September. A winner, if any, will be announced by the Advisory Board in October.
Consider Plight of Students and Suspend Strike—Buhari Begs ASUU
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been urged to consider the plight of students and suspend the ongoing strike.
Speaking at the 19th National Productivity Day in Abuja on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari said efforts are being made to resolve the lingering issues between the union and the federal government.
ASUU had earlier embarked upon a two-month warning to force the government to honour the agreement signed in 2009 but after nothing was done, it extended the industrial action for another three months.
At the conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM) on 48 eminent Nigerians and organisations in both the public and private sectors, for their high productivity, hard work and excellence, President Buhari disclosed that his administration recognises that the future of any nation is contingent on the standard of its educational system, promising to uplift the standard of the educational system in the country.
According to him, he earlier directed his Chief of Staff, the Ministers of Labour and Employment, Education, Finance, Budget and National Planning to immediately bring all parties to the negotiation table to again critically look at the grey areas in the demands of ASUU.
Mr Buhari expressed optimism that all the issues would be resolved, appealing to the lecturers to exercise patience. He also urged students in Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions to give the government time to address the nagging issues in the nation’s university system within the ambit of the resources available.
While speaking on the theme of this year’s celebration, Achieving Higher Productivity through Improved Education System, the President disclosed that efforts would be made to “transform Nigeria into a competitive, strong, vibrant, productive and sustainable economy.”
“Quality educational system is good not just for the national economy; it is also good for the citizens,” he disclosed, emphasising that, “Ignoring the productivity dimension of education would endanger the prosperity of future generations, with widespread repercussions for poverty and social exclusion.”
According to him, “It will be difficult to improve our economic performance and overall productivity, without improving our educational system.”
He stated that the administration was aware of “the emergency situation in our educational system with particular reference to the dearth of qualified and dedicated teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of our educational system.”
Some of the awardees were the late Dr Stella Adadevoh and Mr Babatunde Lawal.
Other were recipients the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Abdullahi Adamu; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; immediate past Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chike Ihekweazu; Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi; Chairman and Founder, BUA Group, Mr Abdusamad Rabiu; Chairman of Globacom, Mr Mike Adenuga Jnr; Professor Stanley Okolo, Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO) and Allen Onyema, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, among others.
Oyo Directs Schools to Resume Teaching of History
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
All public primary schools in Oyo State have been directed by the state government to immediately implement the teaching of History as an independent subject from this term (3rd term) of the 2021/2022 academic session.
The Executive Chairman of the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr Nureni Adeniran, disclosed that the return of the subject to the curriculum would enable pupils to appreciate History as an instrument of national integration, adding that it would allow students to know the history of the country.
Speaking during the monitoring schools’ resumption in Ibadan, applauded the massive turnout of pupils in public primary schools,
He disclosed that the reintroduction of History is in line with the new education policy of the state government, applauding the leadership of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in Abuja for the technical support received, as well as the supply of textbooks.
Mr Adeniran said over 4,950 History textbooks are being distributed to public primary schools state-wide, adding that this will give pupils a proper understanding of the nation’s history.
The education expert said he was optimistic that the curriculum would equip the younger generations with the knowledge of the past, saying that the importance of history to nation building, patriotism and human development cannot be overemphasized.
Meanwhile, he equally appreciated the Heads of Public Primary schools across the state who have commenced academic activities immediately, saying the idleness of teachers or pupils would not be tolerated.
Mr Adeniran, who continued the monitoring exercise alongside other members of the board expressed satisfaction with the situation they met at some schools visited, compared to the turnout of pupils last week.
The Chairman, however, called on other parents, whose children are yet to return to school to kindly ensure they do so without hesitation, as academic activities have commenced.
ASUU Extends Ongoing Strike by Three Months
By Adedapo Adesanya
The ongoing strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been extended by additional 12 weeks (three months) after the two-month warning strike expired.
This was disclosed by the president of the union, Mr Emmanuel Osodeke on Monday.
In a statement he issued after an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the association at the University of Abuja, the ASUU president said the decision was to give the government enough time to resolve all outstanding issues with the lecturers.
“After extensive deliberations, noting the government’s failure to live up to its responsibilities and speedily address all the issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) within the additional eight-week roll–over strike period declared on 14th March 2022, NEC resolved that the strike be rolled over for twelve weeks to give Government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues,” the ASUU president’s statement read.
“The roll-over strike action is with effect from 12.01 a.m. on Monday, 9th May 2022,” he added.
ASUU also expressed dissatisfaction with the three-man panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari in February to resolve the lingering industrial action.
“NEC was equally disappointed that ASUU’s only meeting with the Professor Nimi Briggs-led Renegotiation Committee did not reflect the expected level of understanding, preparation, and clarity that undergird collective bargaining going by the Committee’s confession of ‘going about consulting stakeholders’, the statement added.
“Unless urgent steps are taken to redirect the Committee on concluding a draft Agreement that has been pending since May 2021, its activities may end up as another wild goose chase,” ASUU said.
The union was also full of commendations for the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), students’ groups, and civil society organisations “who have taken steps towards resolving the current labour dispute with the Nigerian government”.
The planned trip by spouses of vice-chancellors, ASUU said, is despicable and condemnable.
“The advertised five-day conference in Istanbul is a waste of scarce resources of our universities; it is insensitive and provocative, particularly at a time like this when lecturers are denied their salaries for daring to struggle to improve the lot of our public universities,” ASUU maintained.
The extension came days after the Federal Government said it would resume talks with the striking lecturers this week.
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