Prominent Igbo sons honoured at Okike Prize Initiative awards
…As students win various laurels
From Petrus Obi, Enugu
The Okike Prize Initiative (OKI) recently gave awards of excellence to deserving Igbo sons who have shown remarkable zeal and meritorious service to the society.
Those who received the awards included presented Chief Ben Etiaba, chairman of the Enugu State Sports Club; Agu Gab Agu, professor of International Law, ESUT; Prof. Chike Anibueze; Obum Arum, dean of the Faculty of Arts, Godfrey Okoye; Prof. Romanus Egudu and Prof Ike Ndolo of the University of Nigeria.
Other dignitaries in attendance were Ndukwo Ogbuja Ndukwo and the former Head of Service, Enugu State, Sir Okwor Clement.
Also students from the various universities in the country who put in entries for the different categories of competition emerged winners.
One of them, Sade Mary-Ann Olaoye, a second year Mass Communication student of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), said ordinarily she did not like Nsukka as a town, but had no choice since she was stuck in the town because of her studies.
However, from her love/hate relationship with the Nsukka town she was inspired to write a poem, “Too good for you, Nsukka,” which she entered for the Okike Awards for Literature two days to the deadline.
“I just edited the poem that I had for a very long time, worked on it and submitted with the hope that the prize is mine. I have always had a passion for literature, reading novels, reading works; I have always loved the art of writing and the beauty in literature.
“The winning poem is entitled, ‘Too good for you, Nsukka,’ I got the inspiration from my love/hate relationship between me and Nsukka as a town. I don’t like that town yet I am stuck with it and it’s stuck with me for two years until I graduate,” she said.
She looked fulfilled that Sunday afternoon, at the main hall of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, as she was called upon to receive the award.
Another winner, Aligwe Nneoha Ann, a final year Law student from the Ebonyi State University, Abakalilki, could not hold back her joy when she was announced the winner of the Okike prize for literature, the drama category.
She entered the competition with a drama script, which has not yet been acted entitled “Secrets”, which storyline centers on betrayal and domestic violence.
An elated Ann could not find words to explain her joy and excitement for wining the award.
After receiving over 400 submissions from universities across the country, notably University of Lagos, ABU Zaria, OAU, University of Ibadan, among others, a student from the University of Abuja, Jonathan Duruguma, emerged winner for the Prose category with his short story ‘For all seasons.’
Chairman on the occasion, Prof. Agu described the Okike annual awards as exciting and promising.
“It shows that there is still hope for our young people especially for the young man who conceived the idea.
“I think he still has more to offer; there is hope because these days, young men do not have time to engage themselves in real academic matters even those in school.
“I think the young man has done very well for himself and his generation and has rekindled hope that Nigeria may still be great. And I enjoin younger people, especially those in the arts, to find a way of being part of that activity and developing their inner intellect.
“It’s success and development depends on the society, we all ought to come together to assist him. And you know that most times and always, such awards are the motivation for participation, apart from the monetary or pecuniary gain. It places the person who wins the award in a pedestal among his peers and the world as an achiever. So, it’s something that should be encouraged and nurtured to growth.”
For Osita James (Jnr), a fresh Law graduate of the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus and former president of the literary club of the university, one of the challenges he faced as a young writer was that “there are so many opportunities available, but young writers are not given the opportunity to compete fairly. A typical instance is the Association of Nigerian Authors Prize for literature. It required students to pay as much as N3, 000 to enroll and I felt that this was a sort of marginalisation since students don’t have so much money and asking them to pay such amount also amounts to excluding majority of the students from the competition.
“This was what drove the vision to create a literary platform where students across all campuses in Nigeria can compete favorably amongst themselves and be rewarded for their crafts.”