Adamawa State queen, Mildred Ehiguese, has emerged as the new Miss Nigeria at the beauty pageant concluded early on Friday at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island in Lagos State.
Ehiguese replaces Chioma Obiadi, who represented Anambra State.
The pageant’s organiser and publisher of The Daily Times of Nigeria, Fidelis Anosike, had said that he is using the show to define the Nigerian woman.
Miss Nigeria, formed in 1957 with the Motto: “Empowering Women Beyond Beauty,” is an annual beauty 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 organised by Daily Times Nigeria.
The current title holder is a Geology student of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and former Miss Earth Nigeria, Chioma Stephanie Obiadi, who represented Anambra State.
The journey to this year’s finale started in November when auditions were held in three cities of Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos within a one-week period.
From personal photography sessions from Studio 24, using cool photo props, there were also monopoly games and passion project activities to keep the ladies entertained with refreshments.
The auditions started at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja on November 7 with an impressive turnout of contestants from the Northern region who showed up for a chance to become the next queen.
The contestants were judged by George Okoro (Photographer and Lifestyle Magazine Publisher), Adama Indimi (CEO Reign by Adama Lashes), Ogugua Okonkwo (CEO Style Temple) and Andy Ogbechei (Creative Director, A-Squared Network).
They served as the guest judges at this phase of the auditions, accompanied by Enyinne Owunwanne (CEO, Times Multimedia – organisers of the Miss Nigeria pageant).
The team moved to Port Harcourt on November 9 to receive contestants from the South South/South East region at the Echelon Heights Hotel, before heading to Lagos where the audition was held at the Times Multimedia, Lagos Headquarters.
From there, the 37 semi-finalists were announced in a special Instagram Live Session, setting the stage for Thursday’s grand finale.
The boot-camp ended on December 18, after which the girls went to Ilorin to meet the first ever Miss Nigeria, 86-year-old Mama Grace Oyelude.
NAN reports that in 2005, Anosike, young and bustling, took over a depressed Daily Times and set out to revamp the legacy of the publication.
He has since set his sights on rewriting the story of Miss Nigeria and graft in new chapters filled with hope, dignity, and value.
“For us, Daily Times, Miss Nigeria is one and the same,’’ Anosike said on Tuesday, shedding light on what Nigerians should expect.
He added: “The show is going to be the premier platform that the company’s products, services, and different people can use to connect to every woman.
“Every woman is a queen. What we’ve been doing over the past 10 years is to get the Pageant to metamorphose into what it should be.
“This year, we are going from strength to strength. Every state has got its own representative. And it’s also important to note that Miss Nigeria is 60 years old having been founded in 1957.
“This year, we are also able to do a proper boot-camp; all the semi-finalists met with several prominent Nigerians, including the Director-General of The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, who is the purpose-partner for this year’s pageant.
“This year’s Miss Nigeria will be crowned as the ambassador for Human Trafficking, and she will spend her time and energy working with NAPTIP to raise awareness about the ills of human trafficking and try as much as possible to contribute her quota to ending the illicit trade.
“We also had a couple of top women personalities who went into the boot-camp to talk to the girls.”
Anosike said Miss Nigeria had been fully restored to its original intent, which is to be a platform for young female empowerment in Nigeria,
He said: “We want to use it to raise the voices of women. We believe that every Miss Nigeria will also take on these issues, raising the voices of women, especially as it relates to issues around the environment.
“We have very solid partnerships with over 30 media houses and everybody has now come to understand that this is a national pageant and not a beauty pageant.”
On plans to balance the moral debauchery associated with beauty pageants, Anosike said about the content of Miss Nigeria: “It’s all about communication, about purpose; it is about people understanding that this is a platform for female empowerment.
“Every woman is a queen — mothers are queens, sisters are queens. This epitomises ‘queenship’. Miss Nigeria is supposed to be a role model for young women.
“What we are doing is building a purpose into the show, so, it is beauty and brains. The idea is to be able to inspire young women.
“We don’t do all those beauty pageant stuff where they go onstage and take off their clothes.
“We don’t commoditise women. Miss Nigeria has stopped that a long time ago. And that’s one of the reasons why we don’t send anybody to Miss World or Miss Universe because they go there and do all these kind of things.
“Miss Nigeria focuses on issues that affect Nigerian women; she is an ambassador of culture, of purpose, of the environment. We want her to focus on the Nigerian people.”
The publisher of The Daily Times of Nigeria said Miss Nigeria does not need any validation from anywhere, adding that she did not need to go outside to win anything.
He said: “It’s a national brand, not a beauty brand.
“The girls have their calendars planned and we have partners that will keep them busy because we want them to have a purpose.
“Going for international beauty contest is a colonial mentality.
“Queens don’t compete, they reign. You can’t say you are Nigeria’s Queen and go outside and be competing with other people.”
On the challenge in organising the event, Anosike said it was the struggle to recreate the show’s purpose.
He said: “The basic challenge we had was to be able to recreate the purpose for which this pageant was founded in 1957.
“Now, we have got it right; and we know this because of the responses we are receiving. We have people entering from Zamfara, from Kano.
“It’s going to be a beautiful show. We are trying to make the show like the Oscars, so it will be a fusion of fashion, beauty and everything good about Nigeria.
“The contestants have to know about the states they are representing. We also want to use this to help to promote our history and heritage. We must be proud of who we are.
“Nigeria has come of age; we’ve seen what people have done in the music industry. That’s the kind of inspiration that we want to draw on.”
Anosike also said that when the pageant started, then, contestants were required to post their photographs to the Times headquarters in Lagos, before the finalists were shortlisted and invited to compete at the Lagos Island Club.
He said it was the premier pageant in the country, and was a powerful medium which empowered several young Nigerian women, and inspired the country as a whole.
The pageant was hosted by Bovi, Ebuka, Olive Emodi and Lala Akindoju, with 2face Idibia performing.