Thursday, August 30, 2007



1. Sectio of the panel: from left Folu Agoi, Toni Kan, Nike Sdesuyi, Deji Toye (Moderator), Grace Daniel, Mrs Adenubi
2. Okediran
3. Mbanefo
4. Cross Section of audience
5. Mrs Adenubi, Raji and Ewenla

The COMMITTEE FOR RELEVANT ART, CORA on Wednesday August 29, staged a a StakeHolders' Workshop on the Nigeria Literature Prize, which is currently in its fourth year, and the end of its phase 1. the theme of the workshop held at the Oceanview Restaurant, Victoria Island Lagos with about 100 corporate executives, artistes, culture enthusiasts and workers in attendance, was "The Social Environment of Business: Cultural Promotion As Corporate Social Responsibility (The Nigeria Prize Experience)". The workshop featured three paper presentations and a discussion session that featured eight panelists. Moderated by CORA's Deji Toye, the panel included the writer, Literature activist, Mrs Mobolaji Adenubi; Dr Wunmi Raji, a writer and lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Mr Tony Kan, writer and Bank executive, Ms Nike Adesuyi, Poet, Literature activist, Ms Grace Daniel, ex-chairperson Women Writers of Nigeria, WRITA, Mr Folu Agoi, Chairman ANA Lagos, Mr Chike Ofili, poet, Journalist and Marketing Specialist and Mr Ropo Ewenla, member CORA and a Culture Activist.
Below are the three papers presented at the event.


CORA statement at the review of the NLNG Award For Literature

When the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas(NLNG) Limited announced the institution of awards for Literature and Science in 2004, a lot of people could be forgiven for asking: What have these to do with Gas?
NLNG has maintained that this is about recognizing excellence in the intellectual sphere, but for a petroleum company, which showed up in Nigeria only in the twilight of the 20th century, two of the awards of the last three episodes can be used to re-calibrate the proverb that says: be careful about throwing a stone in the market place, it can hit your very own child.
The very first edition of the science award went to a thesis on leak detection in a network of pipelines carrying fluids. The study derived a criterion for detecting leaks in any network of pipelines transporting gas or liquid, storage tanks or processing systems and transport of blood in human arterial network.
Last year's award for Literature went to a drama piece that interrogates the militia question in an average family in the marshlands of the Niger Delta basin. That piece suggests to us, tellingly, that in every household in Ijawland and probably Itsekiri, Urhobo, Andoni, Ogoni, Ibibio, Ibani, there's a raging debate on the quality of governance in our country and how people ought to respond to it, all at individual, familial and communal levels.
In just three years, the NLNG award has thrown up significant ideas in both the science of monitoring fluid flow as well as the humanist aspect of engaging the rampaging militancy in the region.
This is important item in NLNG's CSR curriculum vitae. Let me make it personal. I have worked in the petroleum industry for 19 years, not as a Public Affairs personnel, not as an HR person but in the core area of geology and operations. At no time in these years in the petroleum industry, has the industry witnessed so much effort in either pipelay and pipeline maintainance on the one hand and an incessant militancy aiming to disrupt the flow on the other.
When Nigeria commissioned her largest power plant, the Egbin Thermal station in 1985, it was sufficient to simply feed it with High Pour Fuel Oil, which was hauled in by vehicular transportation, even though the cheaper feedstock was natural gas. It would take the commissioning of the Escravos Lagos Gas Pipeline (ELP) years later, to make that step change. Now, we are so used to gas that the nation goes into darkness whenever the gas bearing pipes to Egbin suffer any form of disruption. In the last eight years, we have changed from a net hydro electricity supply market to a gas -to -wire market. As we speak, 11 gas-wire plants are under construction, the largest electricity supply effort on the continent. Conversely, only one hydroelectricity plant is under construction. The key issue is delivering gas to these facilities amid the tension that the Niger Delta is today. The outlay for construction of pipelines, monitoring and maintenance are some of the most critical in facility delivery in the petroleum industry. The gas that is sold by NLNG is gathered in fields all over the 75,000 sq km delta basin and delivered at Bonny through a network of pipelines. Companies are engaging communities more than ever to monitor these pipelines. Which is why the work of Kingsley Abhulimen, a doctoral student of University of Lagos and his supervisor, Professor Alfred Akpoveta Susu, who won the first LNG science prize for their work on Real-Time Computer Assisted Leak Detection/Location Reporting and Inventory Loss Monitoring System is symbolic of the impact of the NLNG prize. As we also know, the National Question as regards to control of the resources and the economic health of communities that inhabit the delta basin, the largest deltaic store of oil and gas on the planet, is what Ahmed Yerima treats in Hard Ground, the drama that won last year's Literature award
So if the NLNG decides to stop the award today, it could jolly well say, well, we've made an impact in these years. We have contributed so robustly to ideas that shape our industry.
But the reason we are here today is to see that the NLNG continues the prize, in particular the Literature award.
Before this afternoon's discussion starts, CORA wants to make the point that, pipeline and militancy aside, this award has helped shape the award system in Nigerian literature. Our distinguished panelists here, including the President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, who was until two months ago, an elected member of the Nation's most representative legislative body, will discuss what this means.
CORA asks for the NLNG prize to be continued. The robust conversation that has grown around the prize has highlighted the challenges of the infrastructure of the book trade. The intensity of the debate has been such that NLNG staff might wonder "why have we gotten ourselves into this?". A glib response would be "what do you expect when you institute an award for the chattering classes? But a more fundamental answer to their misgivings would be: Congratulate yourselves for helping to galvanise the National Conversation.



Being a paper presented at the stakeholders' workshop on the Nigerian Literature Prize on the theme: The Social Environment of Business: Cultural Promotion As Corporate Social Responsibility (The Nigeria Prize Experience), organised by the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA on August 29, 2007 at the Oceanview Restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos. by DR. WALE OKEDIRAN, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN AUTHORS, ANA.

The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Corporation on February 9, 2004 after a series of meetings with stakeholders in the Science and Literary sectors, formally inaugurated the Nigeria prize for literature and the Nigeria prize for science.
Apart from being part of the organization's social responsibility programmes, the NLNG also believed that the Literature Prize "will improve the quality of writing, editing, proof reading, and publishing in the country with spill over effects in newspapers, magazines and broadcasting".
The company also believed that promoting writers is certainly a way of promoting writing, literacy and good reading culture among Nigerians.
In establishing the science and literature prizes Siene Allwell-Brown, the general manager, External Relations had this to say on the vision of the NLNG "Our vision is to ensure that no scientist or writer is viewed with scorn and that those who aim at excellence in these fields will live and work with dignity, with a sense of self esteem and confidence in their future". In his reaction, the managing Director and CEO of the company observed thus: "the aim of promoting The Nigeria Prize for Literature is to stimulate authorship and scientific thinking, reward creativity and bring Nigerian writers to public attention".

Perhaps, no other literary activity has created so much excitement, controversy and discourse than literary prizes. While some teachers of creative writing will quickly remind their students that a literary prize should not be the main reason for any writer to write, it is obvious that winning a literary prize has always been many writers desire. Apart from the financial support which such prizes usually give to their winners, literature is always enriched by the keen competition of literary competitions. It is for this reason that Literary Prizes the world over are keenly contested for and accompanied with a lot of publicity and commercialization. It is obvious therefore that even when writers don't write for prizes, winning such prizes can go a long way in elevating a writers literary credentials.

Some of the criticisms against the four year old prize include the following.

At the onset of the award, the name of the prize was NLNG Literature Prize. However the decision by the NLNG to register the name of the Prize as The Nigeria Prize for Literature generated some controversy in certain quarters.
While two former ANA Presidents, Professor Femi Osofisan and Professor Olu Obafemi did not see anything wrong in this move, another former ANA President, Odia Ofeimun kicked against the decision. In his well publicized article The NLNG LITERATURE PRIZE CONTROVERSY; Before The Nigerian Prize, Ofeimun referred to the decision to register the prize as "selling national patrimony for a mess of pottage". As he put it, " Even if we are all now in the age of liberalization, privatization and deregulation, our identities have not yet been so privatized, liberalized and deregulated to the point where we must celebrate a private company's right to use the state apparatus outside the dictates of market forces to over-ride the capacity of other companies to compete with it" In saying this, Ofeimun emphasized his belief that any organization that has excelled in the promotion of a country's literary prize could be chosen by that country as its prime definer of that country's interest. This however in his view should be done after 'the proof' of such excellence and not 'by a crude resort to legislation outside due process'.
In looking at both sides of the argument, it seems to me that what the critics of the Legislation of the Literature Prize as epitomized by Odia Ofeimun wanted was an input by all Literary Stakeholders before the final legislation. This to me will be akin to the Public Hearing that is usually conducted by the National Assembly before a bill is passed into law. My take on this issue is that since members of the advisory council on the prize represented to a fairly good margin a cross section of the Literary sector in the country, one cannot accuse the Gas Company of having not consulted this very important sector of the Nigerian public. Secondly, before a company or name is registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja, there are certain procedures that must be closely followed. One of these is the placement of a notice of intention in two national newspapers for a certain period of time in order to allow any criticism against such a move. It is also expected that the names of the Board of Directors and other officials of the proposed Prize body should also be listed. Once this is done as I expected it must have been done by the NLNG and no opposition was raised against the registeration exercise, then, the Gas Company can be said to have followed due process in registering the prize. Not being an act of parliament, registeration of names of companies and organizations are not expected to involve anything more than the aforementioned.

Another contentious issue about the prize was the decision of the organizers to limit the prize to writers resident in Nigeria. A sizeable number of Nigerian writers and critics have advocated the inclusion of foreign based writers in the competition. While such arguments may have their merit, it is an established fact the world over that many Literary Prizes are instituted and administered for specific groups as such, the NLNG cannot be faulted for adopting its present stance.
For example, a cursory look through the Writers and Artists Year book in 2006 showed that out of the 180 prizes advertised for that year, more than 150 (about two thirds) were for specific writers writing in specific countries.
An important prize such as the Orange Prize for fiction is awarded for a full-length novel written in English by a woman of any nationality and first listed in the UK while the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize is given to an English Language writer of any nationality under the age of 35 years. The Somerset Maughan Awards are also for writers under the age of 35 who are British subjects by birth and ordinarily resident in the UK and Northern Ireland.
This same specificity exists in the Literature, Marketing and Places, the American version of Writers and Artists year book. Closer home, the Olaudah Equino Prize recently inaugurated in the US is meant for Nigerian writers based in the US.
If part of the aims of the NLNG to endow the Nigeria Literature Prize is to encourage and improve the local content of Nigerian literature, why must be the prize be opened to writers who are not based in the country?

At the initial stages of the prize, some stakeholders in the Literary and Arts sectors were involved with the planning and subsequent execution of the prize. However, as time went on, some of these early collaborators soon left the fold under certain circumstances. This development has generated the assumption in certain quarters that the prize has been hijacked by the Gas Company. However, since some notable Nigerian writers, critics and teachers of literature such as Professor Ayo Banjo, Prof Charles Nnolim, Prof Theo Vincent, Abubakar Gimba, and Prof Zaynab Alkali, among others are still involved in the annual selection of the winners, it is obvious that the prize is still worthy of its name.

Just as it is done by the some organizers of some Literary Prizes such as the Nobel Prize for Literature among others, the name of the judges in the Nigeria Literature Prize are still being kept secret. This has been done in order to protect the judges from being influenced by the contestants. Again, this decision has generated some degree of controversy. It is my humble belief that in order to maintain the confidence of writers in the prize, that the names of the judges be made public. This way, their competence and ability will not be in any doubt while their noble pedigree is a good antidote against protection.

v. THE 2004 PRIZE.
According to the panel of judges for the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2004, none of the entries met the standard set by the judges as such, the 2004 prize was not given out. As the judges put it, "none of the entries was adjudged free of numerous faults observed because grave damage was done to the submissions through self publication with its attendant disabilities emanating from poor packaging". According to the panel of judges, 'the recourse to self-publication short circuits the traditional publishing processes and this gives rise to the numerous stylistic and grammatical flaws just observed" The panel further observed that many writers have not acquired the necessary education or undergone proper apprenticeship and training required for the high level performance expected from winning entries at this level.
The report of the panel of judges thus tallied with the various observations made by the jury of the Association of Nigerian Authors annual Literary Prize over the years concerning the carelessness in craft handling, poor editing, bad grammar, awkward constructions and general sloppiness in theme and techniques over the years. Matters even got to a head in two consecutive years when the prize for the drama was not awarded.
Strangely, however, rather than generate a critical reappraisal of how to resolve this serious state of Nigerian Literature many commentators were delirious with joy that they have been proved right about the poor state of Nigerian Literature without as much as diagnosing the problems and proferring solutions.
As if to corroborate the findings of the Panel of Judges, the Nasarawa State University Lecturer and critic, Sule E Egya in a June 2005 edition of The Ker Review did a review of the three shortlisted Novels for the 2004 Nigeria Literature Prize viz, CONDOLENCES by Bina Nengi-Ilagha, FATTENING HOUSE by Omo Uwaifo abd HOUSE OF SYMBOLS by Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo. After a detailed review of the said books, Sule concluded thus, "The three novels are plottally lame and cannot be called great novels. None of the novels, therefore, is a great work of literature. One of them, because of its language and style may be close to being so, and that is Adimora-Ezeigbo's HOUSE OF SYMBOLS. At least she has the conscious maturity of the novelist"
Putting himself apart from the self glorious array of literary critics, Professor Wole Soyinka mercifully diagnosed some of the problems causing the decay in the Nigerian Literature as a collapse of the Publishing industry in the country as far as it relates to creative works. It follows therefore that if Nigerian publishers refuse to publish creative works not because of their poor quality but because it is not as lucrative as text book publishing, it becomes therefore difficult to fault Nigerian writers if they have to recourse to self publishing.
It is also important to note that in the last decade or so, many publishing houses in the country have refused to recruit competent book editors due to the perceived economic downturn in the country. This development has no doubt robbed the writers of the invaluable input of these editors in the production of their works from ordinary manuscripts to great works of literature.
It should also be emphasized that the pervading problem of the poor state of the Nigerian Publishing Industry is a national problem which needs the urgent attention of all stakeholders in the writing business.
The main reason given for Nigerian Publishers for refusing to publish Nigerian writers is the high cost of books which has been dictated by the high cost of the raw materials that go into book production. For example, contrary to what was the vogue several years ago, no local Paper mill is producing any appreciable amount of newsprint in the country today. Secondly, having found it unprofitable to run, the Federal Government has just been able to privatize the three Paper Mills in the country at Oku Iboku in Akwa Ibom, Jebba in Kwara as well as the Iwopin Paper Mill in Ogun State. It is hoped hat these Paper Mills will soon be producing enough newsprints to make published books affordable and so make it profitable for Nigerian publishers to publish creative works.
It is equally important that the prices of other inputs that go into book production such as Printing ink, vehicles for distribution as well as printing plates and machines should be moderate enough for publishers to make enough profit from the final products.
Another serious problem is the poor skill of some of our writers which among other things is a consequent of the declining educational standard in the country. Again, just like the problem of publishing this is another national problem that demands urgent and quality solution.
We are all aware of the state of many of our public schools in the country viz-a-viz staffing, funding and over all discipline not only among students but teachers inclusive.
When a few weeks ago the Executive of ANA paid a courtesy call on Dr Jerry Agada, the Minister of State for Education who incidentally is the current ANA Vice President, we gave him a blueprint prepared by a sister organization, the Ibadan-based Educare Trust. It is our hope that the document which is a compendium on the pervading problems and possible solutions in the educational sector will be very useful in improving our educational sector.
Also, in reality of the observed shortcomings in the skills of our writers, the Association of Nigerian Authors has over the last two years embarked on a series of Writing Workshops in order to improve the skills of the writers. In spite of very limited funds for the exercise, ANA has in the last one and half years organized three Writing Workshops in different literary genres.
Apart from teaching our young upcoming writers the rudiments of writing, we have also attempted to educate them on the many possible gains of seeking proper editorial assistance before rushing their manuscripts to the press. It is our belief that even if a writer wants to self publish his or her work, every effort must be made to allow the document to be well critiqued and edited by a more seasoned writer or Literature teacher. It is on record that many of the successful authors especially in the western countries enjoy a lot of tremendous input from their editors without whom, we may not have some of the great books we have today. It is also a well known fact that the joy of many book editors and publishers the world over is to recognized for discovering and nurturing to stardom ward winning authors just like the great American book editor, Lex Mcloum who is credited with discovering four American Nobel Laureates!! It is for this reason that I strongly believe that every writer however seasoned can also benefit from the input of good editors who unfortunately are in short supply in many of our publishing houses today. It is hoped that as more and more of these workshops are held, the trickle down effect on the quality of our literature will soon be noticed.

At the inception of the Nigeria Literature Prize in 2004, about thirteen writers on the 'Long List" were taken on a reading tour of the country.
Apart from the publicity that the tour gave to the competition, the tour also enabled members of the public to become more interested in Literature. In a country with a perceived poor reading culture, the tour improved to some extent the interest of the public in Literature. Unfortunately, this aspect of the competition has since been discontinued. It is hoped that with proper repackaging, the reading tour if reconvened, will go a long way in improving the overall success of the prize.
It is also important to mention the issue of the Poor Reading Culture in the country. Literary observers have given several factors for this development. These include, high cost of books, disconnect between the writers and the reading culture as well as competition between reading and other recreational pursuits among our youths such as football, home video and the internet. In the last few years the ANA as our own contribution to stem this ugly development a few years ago organized some Literary Campaigns all over the country. The project which involved reading sessions among secondary school students in the country as well as donation of books to school libraries unfortunately could not be sustained due to financial constraints. It is hoped that more stakeholders will continue to assist the government in this onerous duty of improving the reading culture in the country through the provision of books to schools and community libraries as well as organization of Literary campaigns all over the country.

Having gone so far in running what has come to become one of the most successful Literature Prizes in the country, it will be advisable for the NLNG to put aside enough funds as a form of endowment for the continuation of the Prize. Apart from the fact that this will generate some additional funds with which to run the prize over the years, it will also insulate it from the vagaries of Company Managements which may not be very interested in continuing with the whole exercise.

It is obvious that the Nigeria Literature Prize as being organized by the NLNG despite the teething problems and a few shortcomings is a welcome development to our Literary milieu. As James Tar Tsaaior of the Centre for General Studies, Lagos State University put it in the June 2005 edition of The Ker Review, "In a fundamental sense, the institution of the NLNG Literature Prize constitutes a veritable testament of committed corporate citizenship on the part of the Gas Company and represents a rite of affirmation for the efflorescence of Nigerian Literature." It is the belief of Tsaaior and I agree that The Nigeria Literature Prize has come to challenge, stimulate and enrich the literary enclave and to send the imagination roaming wild on the vast landscape of our literature. As stated earlier, even though the main essence of writing is not to win Prizes, the NLNG Prize has come has "transformed the lean fortunes of Nigerian Literature just like an oasis in the Nigerian Literary desert.
More importantly however, is the fact that the Prize has been able to identify some of the problems militating against good Literature in the country.
It has also inspired the birth of a new wave of Literary Prizes in the country such as the Soyinka Prize, the Utomi Prize and the Olaudah Equiano Prize among others.
The organizers of the Prize have also been able to stimulate authorship, reward creativity and bring Nigerian writers to public attention
In its bid to improve the quality of writing, editing, proof reading and publishing in the country, it is hoped that the NLNG along with other stakeholders in the writing profession bring to the attention of government and other industrialists the urgent need to make the publishing industry viable and pro-creative writers. This way, the well identified self-publishing craze which has been identified as one of the causes of the poor quality of many of the entries for the Literature Prize will be substantially tackled.
The NLNG can also collaborate with other stakeholders especially the Association of Nigerian Authors in the organization of regular Writing Workshops which will also assist in improving the skills of Nigerian writers.

The Ker Review Vol 1 No 1 June 2005
The NLNG LITERATURE PRIZE CONTROVERSY; Before The Nigerian Prize by Odia Ofeimun, The Guardian 2004
LNG Literary Prize by Jahman Anikulapo The Guardian 2004
www.Nigeria LNG Prize



Being a paper presented at the stakeholders' workshop on the Nigerian Literature Prize on the theme: The Social Environment of Business: Cultural Promotion As Corporate Social Responsibility (The Nigeria Prize Experience), organised by the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA on August 29, 2007 at the Oceanview Restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos.; by IFEANYI MBANEFO; Head, Corporate Communications

Business cannot succeed in societies that fail.
There is no future for successful business if the societies that surround it are not working.
------- World Business Council for Sustainable Development

The Lagos traffic makes me tremble. On some days, the traffic is so light, that you wonder whether people had quietly sneaked out of town or that some disaster had made people to abandon the town.
That is the good part, if you want to call it so.
The ugly part is that on most days, including weekends, the traffic is thick, heavy and, well, ugly. And for no good reason! On such days, I envy motorcades of government officials and the dreadful manoeuvres of bullion trucks.
Indeed, Lagos traffic passeth all understanding!
Wading through the Lagos traffic to be here underscores my respect for this august body. This notwithstanding, I will like to say how much it means to me to be with you today. And on behalf of Nigeria LNG Limited, let me express our deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA) today, on a subject close to our hearts.
I am also quick to give thanks to the 24 eminent men and women currently serving on the literature and science committees and by extension the Nigerian Academy of Science and the Nigerian Academy of Letters. These eminent men, women and institutions have been our guide and pillar of support in this difficult, but interesting journey.

Let me say a few words of introduction about Nigeria LNG Limited. NLNG is a company with a colourful history. Some would call it a paradoxical company, because:
It was long in coming, but enjoyed a short flight to the premier league of the LNG industry.
It is a global business located in a remote island on the tip of the Atlantic.
It is located in a country well known for its credit problems, but the company gets excellent ratings by world renowned credit rating agencies.
Its technology is known only to a handful of compatriots, yet 100 per cent Nigerian team started up the plant!
Indeed, the many seeming contradictions in the story of NLNG resolve themselves nicely to make the company a model and a beacon of hope in Nigeria, Africa and indeed the entire oil and gas world.
The story of its birth in the nadir of the military era and rapid growth is a lucent paradigm of economic resurgence in a leading Black country. Today, the success of Nigeria LNG Limited is celebrated in different circles for a myriad of reasons.
In the industry, NLNG is celebrated for:

Fast growth and high safety standards.
Building the projects in time and within budget. This was made possible by strong contractor consortium, strong shareholder support, proven technology, experienced technical advisers and continuous learning experience flowing to other trains.
Good operations run by experienced professionals complemented by quality recruitment.

In the community, particularly where we operate, it is praised for:
Excellent Community Relations activities that cut across key sectors of the economy, including education, infrastructure, health, and micro credit scheme.
Excellent Community Relations policies, which emphasise community good above personal benefits.
Right of way ownership maintenance contracts, which provide employment and sustenance for landowners for upwards of 22 years.
And its commitment to sustainable development

In government circles, for:
Commitment to Nigerianisation and Nigerian content practice strongly based on professionalism and competence
Being the arrowhead for putting out the gas flares in the Niger Delta
Being a huge source of revenue by monetising the country's abundant gas supply
Intervention in the supply of cooking gas to the Nigerian market to bring down prices
Being the arrowhead for diversification of the economy
Its leading role in technology transfer

PUBLIC TRUSTS (Corporate Social Responsibility)
Every citizen (ordinary or corporate) is expected to perform his civic duties. This, of course, includes payment of taxes and contributing to the growth and welfare of the society. This concept, for business, goes a lot deeper than meeting its civic obligations. It goes to the heart of business success, because business cannot succeed in societies that fail. The corollary is that the society cannot succeed without business. Put differently, the fortunes of business and society are tied together; neither of them can succeed without the other. Any surprise that countries spend so much time and efforts chasing foreign investments (please read business).
The society allowing business to carry on unhindered has been often misread as granting of licence to operate. It is not. It is society's contribution to mutual (business & society) good. On the other hand, business performing civic duties in the society (where it is, after all, a corporate citizen) has similarly been misread as philanthropy or Corporate Social Responsibility. It is not. It is business's contribution to mutual good.
These misclassifications have long stood in the way of progress, because both business and society continue to behave as benefactors rather than collaborators. They are often quick to withhold their grants for real and perceived slights.
On the whole, business has to earn its licence to operate, innovate and grow. The way business acts and is perceived is crucial to its success. Accountability, ethics, transparency, social and environmental responsibility and trust are basic pre-requisites for successful business and sustainable development. Society and business must create partnerships to deliver essential services. It is a shared responsibility.
The way to go about it is not in business making donations to the society, but treating community service as business. And for society to understand that a public trust cannot deliver public good over a long haul if it is not run on sound business principles.
At NLNG we are looking to better understand the inextricable linkages between business and community prosperity. We also seek to deploy the skills of business, flexible corporate 'philanthropy', and the rigour of the marketplace to develop systems-changing solutions to community problems. We believe that philanthropic capital, combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of our people.
As a business, NLNG has developed rigorous methods for measuring the cost-effectiveness of its programmes and projects. And it similarly applies this rigorous measurement of cost effectiveness by conducting 'impact assessments' that measure society's progress and overall well-being of the community that can be attributed to its business. In doing this NLNG accepts that there may be results in the community that can't be accurately captured. These include such intangibles as the self-assurance, pride and hope that come with success.
So right from the onset, the company embarked on a bold experiment in social innovation to demonstrate that a different way of investing in non-profits would generate demonstrably superior outcomes to drive change in the sector. The ultimate judgment of its faith and investment in public trusts will not be known for years, but its efforts have triggered a quiet revolution that must be sustained.
It is this policy that underpins the legendary power supply in Bonny driven by NLNG. Power supply on Bonny Island which has remained at a consistent 98% availability for over five years is paid for by users, although there is a margin to accommodate those who are unable to pay and those whose electricity bills are less than N2000.
It negates the principles of sounds economic management to provide free utilities anywhere. It is impossible to sustain free utilities. This principle guides NLNG's investments in non-profits.
Here I would like to introduce the concept that in reality nothing is really free. Somebody has to pay for it.

Recognising, therefore, that the country's education is in dire straits, NLNG sought to create conducive environment for learning and competition, reason why it promotes the Nigeria Prize for Literature and The Nigeria Prize for Science.
These awards were entrusted to The Nigerian Academy of Science and The Nigerian Academy of Letters and some eminent writers. These bodies assess the worth of scientific discoveries and contemporary works of literature and, in so doing, consolidate the needs of the publishing and academic worlds: boosting sales of the award winner and simultaneously effecting a change in the Nigerian canon.

The case for supporting science cannot be more urgent. Nigeria is a developing country with aspirations for joining the ranks of developed nations.
Only science and technology can make these dreams come true. And creating awareness, stimulating competition, rewarding and recognising excellence in these fields are conditions precedent, not only for realising these dreams, but for providing meaningful existence for the citizenry. Some of the reasons proffered by experts seeking greater recognition for science include that:
It will provide leaders with answers to crucial issues such as food shortages, fuel shortages, electoral malpractice, poverty, health and environment;
It will encourage the authorities to take science-based decisions;
It will bring about improvements in the standards of living;
Support for science in a Third World country will help resolve myths that tend to cripple development.
And by instituting a significant prize for science NLNG seeks to bring science and scientists to public attention, save them from their current low rating in national estimation and avail the nation of their immense benefits.
Science can only be relevant if it is supported to play vital roles in the society. A major pillar of support for science comes through recognising and rewarding excellence in science and creativity.
The case for instituting a worthy prize for literature was more straightforward. For decades, Nigerian writers bemoaned their fate. They griped in newspapers, conferences, and workshops about the neglect their noble profession had fallen into. They were unhappy with the declining levels of education and literacy; unhappy with the loss of a reading culture; and for good reasons, sad that writing and publishing in a nation that gave the African Continent its first crop of literary giants had all but become lost art.

Now, let me deal with the issue on the agenda today. Four years of The Nigeria Prize for Literature, has it achieved its purpose?
It will be presumptuous of me to think that I know the answers, so I will not attempt that. I will however attempt to clarify our intentions in setting up this prize, hoping in the process, to instigate academic discussions on the gains of this prize. I will also, where I can, point out the similarities between our prize and other great prizes.
I am aware that four years is barely enough time for the gains of any prize to crystallise. After all, the great Booker Prize did not find its niche till early 1970s.
One thing all great prizes share is controversy. Let's take a count. There are people who think that Alfred Nobel was not a worthy man to institute a prestigious prize. There are those who think that Joseph Pulitzer was similarly unworthy to institute the Pulitzer Prize. There are those who think that the Man Group, a stock broking firm, has no business promoting the prestigious Man Booker Prize and the Man Asian Literary Prize. Do these remind you of the arguments by some of our compatriots that a natural gas exporting company has no business promoting literature prize?
I doubt if anyone is still wondering if NLNG is a fit and proper agency to establish a national prize. If anything, this prize has made a lot of impact, even if only to show our compatriots that sponsorship of science and literary prizes is a worthy venture. The rash of prizes coming in its wake attests to this.

What we set out to do
Writers, scientists, artistes, thinkers -- much like the rest of us -- bristle at being told what to do by people who supposedly didn't know better than they. This is why corporate organisations, not wishing to incur their wrath often make token gestures to them. But unlike these corporate bodies, NLNG decided that it was not enough to give money and then head off to choice seats in theatres and galleries. The company sticks around to make sure that its money goes to where it needs to go and does what it needs to do.
We set out with the idea that we could forge an equal partnership with the stakeholders. Our aim was to bring to the table our business approach that would generate a superior return by investing to build a strong, high-performing non-profit organisation, while the experts bring along their understanding and time-proven lessons learned from running arts and science foundations and non-profits.
In truth, the funding of the Arts is a delicate art. Unlike most other human activities, the Arts needs to preserve its integrity and still be able to reward its sponsors. It confers power and prestige on the benefactor. But it requires, even demands, patrons with cultivated tastes.
Because of the scale of wealth at their disposal and the sense of purpose they are expected to generate, the culture of philanthropy in Nigeria will change in the next few years, strongly influenced by the ways of some multinational corporations, like NLNG.
And in seeking to write the moral biography of their organisations, mega corporations will take steps to change the chemistry and character of philanthropy, by incorporating not just money, but also motives.
For The Arts, NLNG and others like it will represent the intersection of capacity and moral purpose. For the first time in history, the possibility and benefits of aligning broad material capacity of choice with spiritual capacity of character will be vividly defined for our people.
Many people believe that with mega corporations such as NNPC, SPDC, NLNG, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, UBA, First Bank, NBL, Lever Brothers, Coca-Cola the golden age of philanthropy is here. That is a possibility, but it won't happen without the thoughtful involvement of people on both sides of the supply and demand equation.
On the 'demand' side, running of public trusts will become far more professional and sophisticated than at any other time in history, based on the understanding that a golden age of philanthropy will not happen as a natural by-product of the growth in wealth. It will emerge as the result of an unprecedented growth in the quality and sophistication of managers of public trusts. This change in direction is what The Nigeria Prize for Literature represents.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature is intended as a public trust. And to be successful, it must avoid the current trend of 'living off its capital' by both the people in The Arts and philanthropic organisations.
Four years after its founding, The Nigeria Prize for Literature is turning our initial vision into a reality with tangible, compelling results and a clearer understanding of the truly formidable nature of this undertaking.

The following resolutions were reached with stakeholders (university teachers, writers, and journalists) at an exploratory meeting of 14th November 2003:
That high profile literary prize of significance and commensurate prestige be set up to stimulate creativity and promote indigenous literary culture
Cash value at take off $20,000 (now $30,000) to be reviewed regularly as occasion demands
Prize awarded yearly to alternate amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children's literature
NLNG to provide logistics and administration services, pending the time a BOARD OF TRUSTEES will be constituted
There will be publicity, advertising, press promotion and national promotional tours to promote the award
Prize will be awarded yearly at a prestigious ceremony to draw local and international attention to prize and winners
Only works published in Nigeria by Nigerians resident in the country qualify to participate.
In furtherance of these agreements, NLNG registered these prizes as charities with Corporate Affairs Commission pending the time the Board of Trustees will be set up.
Currently, the prize is run by a literature committee made up of 14 eminent writers, teachers, journalists and publishers.
Both prizes from call for entry to award ceremony costs a little over $400, 000 yearly. The breakdown is as follows:
Prize administration---judges' fees, committees' sittings, honoraria, external assessors, etc ($92, 000)
Advertisements in newspapers, radio and television ($76, 000)
Grand Award Night, food, music, entertainment, cocktails and hall rentals and decorations ($102,000)
Accommodation, for judges, committee members, special guests, transportation, etc ($63, 000)
Photography, still and video, documentary, etc ($12, 000)
Award ($60, 000)

In running the prize, Nigeria LNG Limited has adhered strictly to agreements with stakeholders. And has insisted on international best practice! For instance, in registering the prizes as charities, it emulates other international prizes such as:
The Nobel Prize administered by the Nobel Foundation with involvement of Swedish Govt.
Pulitzer Prize: Columbia Journalism School
Booker Prize: Booker Foundation
Caine Prize for African Writing: The Caine Prize Foundation
NOMA Award for Publishing in Africa: The NOMA Award Trust, UK
The next step may be setting up of an endowment to run the prize in perpetuity. To do this, the following conditions will be critical.
Adequate resourcing (both human & financial).
Management of the funds in such a way as to safeguard the economic base and guarantee the independence of the judges and Prize Committee
Engaging reputable local and foreign blue chip fund management companies that will apply field-tested investment approach that incorporates the strategy, rigour and analysis of private equity firms and apply it in a way that responds to the uniqueness of non-profit organisations.
To achieve this, the economics must be right and the right levels of investment and safeguards put in place. The last four years have served as learning curves for everyone. It brought a general understanding of the level of investment needed to build a strong prize and establish it as a major Nigerian brand. NLNG also worked in close collaboration with other world prizes to learn from their experiences and avoid pitfalls.
The Learning Curve
There are prizes that reward careers, such as the Nobel. There are prizes that reward promise, like the Whitbread first book. The Man Booker rewards the book that is published that year. But all prizes must aim at prestige, self-sufficiency and longevity.
In comparison, The Nigeria Prize for Literature is closer to the Man Booker Prize in that it rewards books rather than careers. The Nigeria Prize for Literature seeks to reward, every four years, the best books in prose, drama, poetry and children's literature.
Yet it seeks to establish a business model that imitates the Nobel Prize. NLNG has commissioned two consultancy groups -- IBTC and another team lead by consultants from University of Lagos -- to provide it with efficient business models and determine the level of investment that would endow the prize in perpetuity. When their work is done, and the Board of Trustees set up, competent fund managers will be engaged to grow the funds and ensure that it is well managed.
Similar to national trends, generating adequate funding to support arts activities is an ongoing challenge for non-profit arts organisations. So in response to funding pressures, arts organisations must make organisational adjustments and break with traditions and myths that hold them back. They should also be more willing to partner with business.
By establishing a strong financial foundation, arts organisations will be able to plan and prepare adequately for future development and economic ascent. Failure to adopt new business models or facilitate the expansion of the arts industry will inhibit its influence, detract from our quality of life, and adversely impact other industries such as tourism and creative services.
In Nigeria today, although the amount of public money invested in the non-profit arts is rather modest, reinventing the arts and presenting new offerings that speak to the public's evolving aesthetic tastes would stand the arts industry in good stead.
I therefore strongly believe that for the industry to grow and remain vital to the lives of compatriots, artists and arts administrators must strike a balance between arts and economics. Ignoring economics is no longer an option for writers. The degree to which the arts industry is supported by the community, business, and government will influence the kinds of developmental choices that are realistically available and their chances for success.

I have presented all the facts of this great Prize as they are. I believe that some of us here are more enlightened than before on what this Prize is all about.
Even so, there might still a few among us who would still have need for some clarifications. I want to believe that I should be able to clear the doubts in any one's minds.
But we also have a listening disposition: I shall gladly go away with good suggestions from this gathering on how to advance the cause of The Nigeria Prize for Literature.
Maybe I can also open a debate:
Should the Prize strictly be a Nigerian affair or should it be expanded to include Nigerians in Diaspora?
Should we expand its horizon by making a West Africa affair, something akin to the West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup,
Or indeed a Nations Cup for all of Africa? After all it is the biggest prize on literature in the continent.

Thank you, dear friends.
Ifeanyi Igwebike Mbanefo

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