Date Published: 10/06/09
Miss Earth Pageant: A betrayal from home By Anayo Onukwugha
Miss Nkesi Gift Okandu is a 19-yeal old 300-level Law student of the premier university of technology in Nigeria, the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nkpolu-Orowuoroko, Port Harcourt. A beauty to behold, Miss Okandu hails from Rivers State, Ikwerre ethnic nationality to be precise.
She entered for the Miss Earth Nigeria 2009 pageant and fulfilled all procedural requirements, among other things included the payment of a registration fee. The screening exercise, which followed later included a two-week action-packed tests and interviews on conduct, physique intelligence and social interaction in all of which she exhibited the superb qualities she is made of and came top among other contestants.
In the final contest, held at the Atlantic Hall, Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt on Saturday, September 12, 2009, the panel of judges found Miss Okandu, on all scores to be the3 most qualified to emerge as the Miss Earth Nigeria 2009. Based on this, the beauty queen was expected to represent Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world at the Miss Earth International pageant to be held in Philippines in October 2009.
Following her emergence as Miss Earth Nigeria, Miss Okandu was asked by organizers of the pageant, AMC Productions Limited, through its National Director, Miss Ibinabo Fiberesima to prepare her international passport for onward transmission to the Philippines Embassy in Nigeria for visa purposes and other traveling documents. The beauty queen was given up to Friday, September 25, 2009 as the dateline for the submission of her travel documents to the organization.
However, the smooth ride for the young law undergraduate to stardom became rough when she handed over her international passport to Miss Fiberesima on the agreed date but was told to sign in for another pageant, Miss Globe International, rather than the Miss Earth International, which she is the reigning queen of the Nigeria version and have been preparing heavily to defend the title at the international scene.
According to Miss Okandu, she opposed the idea sold to her by Miss Fiberesima and respectfully told her that she would not sign in for the Miss Globe pageant.
Understandably, Miss Okandu’s refusal to go for Miss Globe International, being forced on her by the star actress was borne out of the fear that she may not perform well in that category, thereby bringing disgrace to herself and Nigeria.
For daring to voice out her feelings, Miss Okandu was labeled as being rude to organizers of Miss Earth Nigeria and was on September 28, 2009 dethroned as the reigning Miss Earth Nigeria 2009. The news of her dethronement was conveyed to her through a letter dated September 28, 2009 was signed by Miss Fiberesima herself.
The letter read in parts; “AMC Productions Limited, organizers of Miss Earth Nigeria beauty pageant wishes to inform you, Miss Nkesi Okandu that with immediate effect, you have been dethroned / removed as Miss Earth Nigeria 2009. By virtue of paragraph ‘A’ of the ground of disqualification or dethronement.
“You have not been able to abide by your contract so far, coupled with the fact that you have times without number been rude to the organizers”.
The news of Miss Okandu’s dethronement was also aired in at two privately owned radio stations in Port Harcourt.
The irony of this drama is that while Miss Okandu signed her contract papers with the organizers on September 25, 2009, the same day she was asked to sign in for Miss Globe International, which she refused and was dethroned on September 28, 2009, as at Tuesday, September 22, 2009, the name and photograph of the first runner up in the Miss Earth Nigeria pageant, Miss Modesta Alozie was already on the website of Miss Earth International as the winner of Miss Earth Nigeria 2009.
This development goes a long way to indicate that long before Miss Okandu had the encounter with Miss Fiberesima on September 25, 2009, where the latter attempted to influence the former to sign in for Miss Globe International pageant, instead of Miss Earth International pageant, Miss Fiberesima had long dispatched and transmitted the name and picture of her preferred candidate, Miss Alozie to the secretariat of Miss Earth International as the winner of the pageant in Nigeria.
It is worthy to note that both Miss Okandu and Fiberesima are proud indigenes of Rivers State while the head offices of the AMC Productions, organizers of the pageant is located in Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State..
One continues to wonder what Miss Fiberesima and the AMC Productions stand to gain by denying a 19-year old promising Rivers’ daughter her coveted crown in a maaner shrouded with suspicion. Does it mean that Miss Fiberesima had already ‘arranged’ Miss Alozie, a student of Imo State University, Owerri to represent Nigeria at Miss Earth International and merely used Miss Okandu as a window dressing?
It is regrettable that a beauty pageant which should be used to showcase whatever beauty and intelligence that come from Nigeria and as a tourism boost to the country is now being used to give validity to the perception of not few foreigners that Nigeria and Nigerians are full of duplicity.
Let Miss Fiberesima and her co-travellers in this saga know that though they may have succeeded in pulling down one of them for selfish reasons, their actions have ended up creating more bad image for Nigeria.
Onukwugha is a journalists based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.