Miss Nigeria

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Not to be confused with Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria.
Miss Nigeria
Motto Metamorphosis
Formation 1957
Type Beauty Pageant
Headquarters Lagos
Location
Official language
English
Pageant organiser
Daily Times (1957-2004)
AOE Events and Entertainment (2010-2012)
Beth Model Management (2012-date)
Website Official Website

Miss Nigeria is an annual pageant show which showcases positive attributes of Nigerian women and awards university scholarships. The winner portrays exemplary qualities and serves as a role model for young women in the country. The pageant is currently organized by Daily Times Nigeria.[1]

The current title holder is Computer Science graduate Lessi Pamela Peter-Vigboro who represented Cross River.

History[edit]

National newspaper Daily Times are owners of the Miss Nigeria franchise which started as a photo contest in 1957. Contestants posted photographs of themselves to the Daily Times headquarters in Lagos where finalists were shortlisted; those successful were invited to compete in the live final which at the time did not include a swimsuit competition at the Lagos Island Club. UAC employee Grace Oyelude won the maiden edition of Miss Nigeria, and would later use part of her £200 prize money to travel to England where she studied Nursing.[2] Contrary to popular belief, Julie Coker was not the first Miss Nigeria - she was Miss Western Nigeria but used the 'Miss Nigeria' title during official engagements aboard. However, she did compete in the contest the year after Oyelude's reign, losing out to secretarial student Helen Anyamaeluna.[3] Former seamstress Nene Etule remains the only non-Nigerian to have won the contest; she was eligible as Southern Cameroon was under Nigerian constitution in 1959.[4] The following year the contest was briefly renamed 'Miss Independence' to commemorate the country's independence from British rule, and the winner Rosemary Anieze was crowned in a ceremony which included Coker as one of the judges.[5]

The sixties saw Miss Nigeria competing at international level; Yemi Idowu, who had won the contest in 1962 was a semi-finalist at Miss United Nations 1963. Her successor, salesgirl Edna Park, was the first Nigerian at Miss Universe in 1964, and is best remembered for disrupting the show by collapsing on stage after failing to reach the top fifteen. Park was carried away by policemen and contest officials [6] before spending the night in a Miami hospital under sedation, where she was consoled by Nneka Onyegbula, wife of the Nigerian ambassador, who reportedly stated: "All the judges are White and they aren’t really competent to judge [a] dark girl's beauty". After Park, no other Miss Nigeria competed at Miss Universe.[7] Rosaline Balogun became the first official Miss Nigeria at Miss World in 1967.[clarification needed]

With the gradual demise of Daily Times and rivalry with Sliverbird's Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, Miss Nigeria ceased to be the country's most prominent pageant and began to lose its way towards the nineties; in the mid-eighties Daily Times had lost its license to send delegates to Miss World and Miss Universe,[8] and no winner was crowned after Clara Ojo's victory from 1994 to 1998 due to the organiser's incapability to convene a pageant during this time. After the new millennium, Miss Nigeria became a shadow of its former self, and the contest was placed on hold in 2004 by Daily Times.

In 2010, after a six-year attempt, AOE Events and Entertainment, headed by former MBGN Nike Oshinowo were brought into the Miss Nigeria franchise by Daily Times.[9][10] For the first time in its history, entry was open to women in the diaspora,[11] and inspired by Miss America, Oshinowo relaunched Miss Nigeria as a scholarship programme which offered free tuition to the winner and second and third-place winners, with the Miss Nigeria titleholder receiving a scholarship to study at any University of her choice worldwide.[12] The new Miss Nigeria now included a reality show The Making of a Queen which saw contestants compete in various tasks synonymous with Nigerian women including cooking on outdoor firewood stoves, hostessing, and haggling with market traders, with a number of contestants facing eviction each week.[13] Evening gowns were made from traditional African fabrics, and most notably the swimsuit competition was discontinued.[14] The pageant ran for two years before the organization of the pageant was taken over by Beth Model Management CEO and former Miss Nigeria UK Elizabeth Aisien in 2012.[15]

Throughout the year, the winner is sponsored by several prestigious organisations, and may land endorsement deals.[16] Winners no longer represent Nigeria at international pageants (the last Miss Nigeria at a major pageant abroad was Law graduate Nwando Okwuosa at Miss International 2003), but now work with associated charities and use their status to promote their platforms (also known as 'pet projects') - an issue which is of relevance to Nigeria.[17]

Competition[edit]

Contestants are required to be unmarried and childless Nigerian citizens, with a good command of English. The age limit is 18-24, and they should be no shorter than 5'7". They should also be in good health and of moral character.[18]

Miss Nigeria consists of Traditional, Talent, Interview, and Evening Gown competitions, with contestants competing in zonal contests in different parts of the country where the first, second, and third-place winners were selected to compete at the grand finale in Lagos.

Originally contestants were given numbers during live shows, but this was changed in 2010 when they each represented Nigerian states. For the 2013 edition, they represented their respective individuality - each contestant had their name printed on her sash, and only twenty-one of the thirty-six semi-finalists competed in the grand finale .[19] In 2015, the contestants once again represented states.

Prizes for the winner vary each year; as of 2013 it includes ₦3,000,000, a luxury car, the Miss Nigeria diamond-encrusted crown, an apartment for the duration of her reign, and a modeling contract with Beth Model Management. The full scholarship now extends to higher institutions in the country only.[20]

Criticism[edit]

Although Miss Nigeria has been praised for judging contestants according to Nigerian standards of beauty, critics argue that it is more Western than African, and did not fully represent Nigerian culture. In 2001, Theatre Arts student Keltuma Shawanma was accused of going commando underneath her short Aso Oke outfit in an attempt to secure top marks from the judges who were reportedly offended, along with the audience. Shawanma later argued that she had worn a g-string. Although Oshinowo-Soleye promised that future winners will be truly representative of Nigerian beauty,[21] the 2010 finalists wore tartan during a dance interval. [clarification needed]

Critics had described the original pageant as a parade of beauty with no brains. Former pageant manager Yomi Onanuga told an interviewer in 2006: "We are tired of seeing girls on stage after two weeks in camp, and having much fun, all we see is that they ask them [questions] and they win. Two months after, somebody asks her the same question, she cannot answer, and people begin to ask, Where did she get her crown from?".[22] English Literature student Ibinabo Fiberesima was unable to name the vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan which she attended.[23] Fiberesima has claimed in numerous interviews and on her former website that she had competed in 1997,[24][25][26] but this statement is questionable because no contest was held from 1994 to 1998; she had actually been a contestant in 1991, finishing second behind Bibiana Ohio.

In 1988, dark-skinned trainee caterer Stella Okoye crowned her successor Wunmi Adebowale, who was also dark,[27] thus breaking a long line of light-skinned winners, yet Okoye's reign had not been without controversy - fellow contestant Omasan Buwa told The Punch in 2011 "In the hall that day, there was a big uproar and they had to take her out with police escort[s]. The audience felt she was very dark." [28]

The mediocre prizes and lack of endorsements were also a cause for concern before the new millennium. Miss Nigeria 1993 Janet Fateye told an interviewer: "People thought I was raking in all the money there was, but that wasn't the case. The prize money at the time was a mere N12,000, given to me at N1,000 a month. Yes, I got the car prize that was being serviced by Daily Times, but then I had to buy petrol!" [29] Millennium queen Vien Tetsola was said to be residing in accommodation which hardly matched her status during her reign.[30]

Scandals[edit]

Miss Nigeria 1981 Tokunboh Onanuga was dethroned after it was uncovered that she had forged a WAEC certificate which she used to gain admission into the University of Lagos.[31] WAEC have since confirmed on their Twitter account that Onanuga had committed exam fraud.[32]

In 1990, Binta Sukai's eligibility to compete was questioned as she was rumoured to be non-Nigerian, until it was confirmed that the aspiring fashion designer was only one-quarters Scottish. Although she has been referred to as the first Northerner to win Miss Nigeria (her father was Fulani), this milestone was already reached when Grace Oyelude was crowned in 1957. Oyelude was from the Northern Region, albeit of Yoruba heritage.[33]

In 2001, magazine City People revealed that the reigning Miss Nigeria, thirty-year-old Valerie Peterside, had lied about her actual age (she had told organisers she was twenty-five) and forged her university qualifications (she was reportedly expelled from Ahmadu Bello University prior to graduation due to examination malpractice).[34] Following an investigation by several prominent Nigerians including former Daily Times editor Tony Momoh and former Miss Nigeria contestant Julie Coker, a decision was made to dethrone her. Peterside, who had competed the previous year (still as a 25-year-old), fought to keep the crown, but was forced to resign, allowing first runner-up Applied Chemistry student Amina Ekpo to take over.[35][36]

Despite her popularity as Miss Nigeria 2002, International Relations graduate Sylvia Edem attracted further media attention when it was rumoured she had forged her date of birth to compete, like Peterside before her. It was believed that Edem was thirty years old, until an investigation confirmed she was indeed twenty-three.[37]

Title holders[edit]

Year Title Holder State of Origin Notes
1957 Grace Oyelude Kogi Now retired, after a nursing career in the United Kingdom and Nigeria.
1958 Helen Anyamaeluna Delta
1959 Nene Etule N/A Now Nene Malafa; married former Director of United Nations Information Services in Nigeria, Pen Malafa;[38][39]
1960 Rosemary Anieze also known as "Miss Independence" Delta
1961 Clara Emefiena
1962 Yemi Idowu Western Region Now Yemi Majekodunmi; was semi-finalist at Miss United Nations [40]
1963 Gina Onyejiaka Eastern Region First Official Miss Nigeria at Miss World. It took place on 7 November 1963 at the Lyceum Theatre in London, UK.
1963 Alice Aleebe
1964 Edna Park Lagos First - and last - official Miss Nigeria at Miss Universe
1965 Anna Eboweime Mid-Western Region
1967 Rosaline Balogun Western Region Miss Nigeria at Miss World
1968 Foluke Ogundipe Western Region
1970 Stella Owivri[41]
1972 Victoria Bamidele
1977 Toyin Monney
1978 Irene Omagbemi
1979 Helen Prest Bendel Later Helen-Prest Davis and now Helen Prest-Ajayi; author and columnist; daughter competed in MBGN 2012[42]
1980 Syster Jack Rivers
1981 Tokunbo Onanuga dethroned Dethroned after false WAEC results were discovered[43]
1982 Rita Martins
1984 Cynthia Oronsaye
1985 Rosemary Okeke Imo Fashion designer[44]
1986 Rita Anuku[45] Bendel
1987 Stella Okoye Imo
1988 Wunmi Adebowale
1990 Binta Sukai Kaduna
1991 Bibiana Ohio Worked as an actress and dog-breeder[46]
1993 Janet Fateye Now Janet Gabriel; IT consultant and former pharmacist, currently pursuing music career with band Neophonics in United Kingdom[47]
1994 Clara Ojo Edo
1998 Regina Nwabunar Abia
2000 Vien Tetsola also known as the "Millennium Queen" Delta
2001 a Valerie Peterside dethroned Rivers Dethroned for forging age and qualifications
2001 b Amina Ekpo replaced Peterside Akwa Ibom Now an applied chemist[48]
2002 Sylvia Edem Cross River First South-Eastern winner
2003 Nwando Okwuosa Anambra
2004 Ene Lawani Benue Now a fashion designer specializing in headgear[49]
2010 Damilola Agbajor Delta
2011 Feyijimi Sodipo Ogun
2013 Akudo Anyaoha Imo
2015 Pamela Lessi Cross River

Other notable contestants[edit]

Unofficial title holders[edit]

  • Former Miss Western Nigeria Julie Coker has often been wrongly described as the first winner of Miss Nigeria.[58]
  • In 1963, Gina Onyejiaka sponsored herself at Miss World after Nigeria failed to send Miss Nigeria winner Alice Aleebe; the High Commission in the United Kingdom refused to acknowledge Onyejiaka as the country's representative.[59]
  • In 1966, Miss World organisers disqualified mother-of-two Uzor Okafor as she was not the official Miss Nigeria - no contest had been held that year. Okafor later claimed that she was not interested in the pageant, but had been persuaded to represent her country by her British husband.[60]
  • Morenkike Faribidio was sent to represent Nigeria at Miss World in 1969, despite not having won her national pageant.[61]
  • Shortly after Agbani Darego's victory at Miss World, Miss Nigeria 2001 Amina Ekpo took legal action against her MBGN counterpart who was accused of misrepresentation, stating that Darego had fraudulently presented herself as Miss Nigeria at the international pageant, and had not been authorised to use the title - at international level MBGN representatives have used the title "Miss Nigeria". Former Daily Times managing director Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo, who had famously described MBGN winners as "lowly-rated queens" supported the $10,000,000 lawsuit, claiming "We will do everything possible to make sure we prevent people from tampering with a patented pageant like Miss Nigeria, [and] will not allow anybody to misrepresent us." [62]
  • The Guardian came under fire for misrepresenting the Miss Nigeria brand in 2011 when Theatre Arts student and former MBGN runner-up Sandra Otohwo was described as Miss Nigeria 2009 by the publication. Otohwo, who had represented Nigeria at Miss Universe 2009, posed for photographs wearing a bikini at the beach which enraged the Miss Nigeria organisers who had promoted their swimsuit-free pageant as a wholesome institution, and pointed out that the competition was dormant from 2004 to 2010, therefore making it impossible for the organisers to have crowned a Queen in 2009. The Guardian later apologised by printing Nike Oshinowo's complaint in a subsequent issue.[63]

Difference between Miss Nigeria and MBGN[edit]

MBGN focuses mainly on physical attributes while Miss Nigeria promotes a wholesome girl-next-door image, combining vintage glamour with modern elegance. The Miss Nigeria swimsuit competition was scrapped but this feature remains popular at MBGN where contestants now wear bikinis.[64] MBGN winners automatically become representatives at international pageants while Miss Nigeria acts as a cultural ambassador.[65]

References[edit]

  1. ^ All Set for New Miss Nigeria
  2. ^ My Reign As First Miss Nigeria
  3. ^ In My Time, We Knew Nothing About Genotype
  4. ^ Cameroon Political Story
  5. ^ Enahoro’s humour made me fall in love with him
  6. ^ Miss Nigeria Not Selected
  7. ^ Miss Universe:Beauty
  8. ^ Men Are Scared of Me
  9. ^ "Between Brand Owners and 'Miss Nigeria'". Thisday. Lagos, Nigeria. 18 July 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  10. ^ Olukole, Tope (19 June 2010). "Miss Nigeria Returns After Six Years •To Hold In Three Continents". Nigerian Tribune. Ibadan, Nigeria. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Nigeria: Miss Nigeria Pageant Returns
  12. ^ Feyijimi Shodipo Embraces Fashion
  13. ^ Miss Nigeria casting holds in Abuja today
  14. ^ Miss Nigeria Pageant... Showcasing Beauty, Brains and Culture
  15. ^ Nigerian beauty pageants still evolving -Elohor Aisien
  16. ^ Miss Nigeria Pageant... Showcasing Beauty, Brains and Culture
  17. ^ Being a Beauty Queen is Huge Responsibility
  18. ^ Miss Nigeria Beauty Pageant Calls for Entry
  19. ^ As Elohor Aisen Hosts Miss Nigeria
  20. ^ Miss Nigeria Beauty Pageant Calls for Entry
  21. ^ Being a beauty queen is huge responsibility
  22. ^ Miss Nigeria organiser speaks to The Sun
  23. ^ It’s Not Easy Being A Single Mother –Bibiana Ohio
  24. ^ I Was Destined to Be an Entertainer
  25. ^ My past turned me into a new person
  26. ^ Ibinabo Prepares For Miss Earth Nigeria
  27. ^ The Role of Women - Ebony Magazine
  28. ^ I was a tomboy–Omasan Buwa
  29. ^ Janet Gabriel, Miss Nigeria 1993
  30. ^ New Miss Nigeria
  31. ^ On Parade, after which she was expelled by the institution
  32. ^ queen, her age, and tale bearers
  33. ^ Extravagance Means Nothing to Me
  34. ^ Peterside Dethroned
  35. ^ Amina Ekpo is named new Miss Nigeria 2001
  36. ^ Stripped of her Crown
  37. ^ Sylvia Edem in age scandal[dead link]
  38. ^ Chief Etule
  39. ^ Pittsburgh Press
  40. ^ Miss United Nations
  41. ^ Stella Owivri at Miss World
  42. ^ Helen Prest and Her Daughter
  43. ^ Stripped of her Crown
  44. ^ Why My Marriage Crumbled
  45. ^ Rita Anuku, 1986 Miss Nigeria dies
  46. ^ Bibiana Court Document
  47. ^ Neophonics
  48. ^ Amina Ekpo
  49. ^ Rising Profile
  50. ^ Why Isabella was Disqualified From Miss World
  51. ^ When MBGN Was Crowned
  52. ^ Isabella Ayuk
  53. ^ I Want to Give Hope to the African Child
  54. ^ Julie Coker interview
  55. ^ Joan Okorodudu
  56. ^ The Lie Sylvia Nduka Told
  57. ^ Controversies Still Trailing Sylvia Nduka
  58. ^ FAB News: Chief Ebenezer Obey’s 70th Birthday Party in London
  59. ^ Miss World 1963[unreliable source?]
  60. ^ Nigerian Entry for Miss World Disqualified
  61. ^ Miss World 1969[unreliable source?]
  62. ^ Fellow Nigerian's 10-million-dollar suit hangs on Miss World
  63. ^ Miss Nigeria beauty pageant
  64. ^ Miss Nigeria Returns after 6 years, without swim wear segment
  65. ^ Being a Beauty Queen is Huge Responsibility

External links[edit]