Omari Gomba’s Grit Wins NLNG Prize for Literature

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Mr Obari Gomba, a playwright, has been announced as the winner of the $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Literature for the 2023 cycle on Drama for his work titled Grit.

The prize, sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), was announced on Friday by Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, the Chairperson of the Advisory Board, at the Grand Award Night ceremony in Lagos, themed Redefinition.

She also announced Eyoh Asuquo Etim’s entry Herstory versus ‘History’: A Motherist Rememory in Akachi Ezeigbo’s The Last of the Strong Ones and Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun as the 2023 winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism, which comes with $10,000 prize money.

The winning book beat two other books on the shortlist of three, The Ojuelegba Crossroads by Mr Abideen Abolaji Ojomu and Yamtarawala – The Warrior King by Mr Henry Akubuiro. The book competed against 143 plays submitted for the competition in 2023.

Professor Hippolite Amadi, the 2023 winner of The Nigeria Prize for Science, also sponsored by NLNG, was also awarded the prize money of $100,000 for his ground-breaking work on respiratory technologies for keeping Nigerian newborn babies alive. He was announced the winner in September by the Advisory Board led by Professor Barth Nnaji.

In his welcome address, NLNG Managing Director, Mr Philip Mshelbila, emphasised the need for redefinition in a rapidly changing world characterised by pandemics, geopolitical events, climate change, technological advancements, and more.

He stated that redefinition involved looking at things in new ways, whether at a national, communal, or personal level, which often begins with re-evaluation, reassessment, and revision of established positions.

He expressed excitement about Nigeria’s prospects in the energy transition journey, particularly with natural gas as an enabler, highlighting NLNG’s support for the Decade of Gas policy.

“In NLNG, we supported the declaration of the Decade of Gas, which the federal Government launched in 2021 to help Nigeria achieve industrialisation, economic prosperity, and tackle energy poverty by using gas as an enabler which aligns with NLNG’s vision to be a globally competitive LNG company helping to build a better Nigeria.

“I have expressed optimism in several fora that the Decade of Gas policy would enable the country to catch up with the industrialised countries of the world if successfully implemented as planned, while at the same time decarbonising our ecosystem.

“The energy transition journey is, in itself, a redefinition. And we are quite excited about the prospects for Nigeria, especially as we see natural gas enabling this transition! Opportunities abound, and I call on all, to seize them,” he said.

“Our bid for redefinition is further contextualised through the sponsorship of the Nigeria Prizes: the Nigeria Prize for Science, Literature, and Literary Criticism. This year, the theme of the science prize is Innovation for Enhancement of Healthcare Therapy.

“We need our people to be in their best form—physically, mentally, and emotionally—to tap into the wealth attainable through Nigeria’s reasoned potential. Likewise, the genre for the 2023 NLNG Prize for Literature is drama. As is apparent, drama has an adept way of communicating themes and messages for our deeper reflection,” he stated.

Speaking on the theme of the event, the Special Guest of Honour, His Highness Muhammad Sanusi II, stated that the theme transcends science and literature and that it was time for Nigeria to redefine itself.

He stated further that NLNG has the potential to redefine the Nigerian economy by helping the country transition from oil to gas, which could cut energy costs by 50 per cent to 60 per cent in the country, significantly impacting inflation, people’s livelihoods, and the nation as a whole.

According to Professor Adimora-Ezeigbo, the winning book, Grit, is a dramatic journey into the destructive impact of soul-less politics of power and profit which brings out the beast in man.

She stated that the play builds the motivations for the actions of every character in a lifelike manner “with apt characterisation and purposeful manipulation of plot and conflict.

“The play is filled with conflicts that create the mood of the inevitability of tragedy and the language is full of twists that entertain in the midst of pain.”

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