THE 2012 edition of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN), will take place on Saturday, May 5, 2012, in Benin City, Edo State. According to the organizers, Silverbird Group, the pageant is going out of its original host, Lagos for the second time due to the readiness of Edo State to host the world class beauty pageant. This year’s edition will also mark the 25th anniversary of the pageant. Since it started there has not been any break. Guy Murray Bruce, who is the Vice President of Silverbird Group, explained that since inception there has never been anytime there was a break. “We have always had a queen every year.”
Screening for the 2012 edition will take place in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos. Since inception the beauty pageant has produced beauty queens who have conquered the world, Agbani Darego in 2001won the Miss World Crown. Others who have made it to prominence through this platform include Omowunmi Akinnifesi, Abiola Bashorun, Adaeze Yobo (nee Igwe), and just last year, Sylvia Nduka who is the reigning queen.
Mr. Guy Murray Bruce spoke more about the pageant by going down memory lane in this chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly.
You have been organizing the MBGN for 25 years now and each year you spend millions, what are the gains?
It’s a brand for us. It’s glamorous but beyond all that, deep down, it’s a fulfillment. We see someone coming from grass to grace, you see someone grow from our platform to become something they never expected or maybe it propel them to succeed in anything they want to become in life and that’s the joy we ultimately get from staging the pageant every year. We are all human beings. It’s like you having a child and your child goes to school and gets good grades and then from their goes to the university, you will definitely be proud of the child.
What about the financial gains?
If it was financial gain, believe me, we could have quit long time ago. It’s not about the financial gains, it gives us brand equity. I agree but beyond that, it also gives us self satisfaction and some kind of meaning for the growth of women development in Nigeria.
Were there times you decided to call it quit?
Many times we thought about it but then, deep down we couldn’t. You can’t abandon a child, there is no way we couldn’t have abandoned this project and it’s going to outlive us.
What gives the organizers the strength to go on?
Because of the fact that more ladies are interested in taking part and more parents are encouraging their wards to take part. Those are the things that motivated us even further as opposed to earlier days when we had to beg young ladies to take part. Now, they come to us. Now the parents are begging to enroll their wards.
What are the basic challenges of putting this pageant together?
I will say in the earlier years when we have to beg ladies to participate, we have to talk to parents to encourage their wards. I could remember in a year, we had only 14 contestants, we couldn’t screen because we were afraid we may not have anybody left. We had to enroll all the 14 contestants, it was after Agbani Darego won Miss World in 2001, that the number of willing contestants swell up.
Are there times there was no pageant at all?
We never stopped, we didn’t have the pageant in 1995, but at the same time, the first runner-up in the previous year automatically became the queen from our first edition when Hon. Chuba Linda Ikpeazu emerged the winner. There is no year we had no queen. When Agbani Darego won the Miss World in 2001, Ann Suinner took over for just three months.
Last year, we had some aggrieved contestants challenging the choice of the organizers, what are you doing to avoid that this year?
Let me say this, MBGN is a pageant, it’s not a competition, it’s not a race. It’s normal to have somebody to hire some crowd to cheer up contestants but that may not be the best among them all. We assess them right from the time they came into the camp, the chaperon evaluates their conduct and behavior. Those are the things that give them marks not the crowd. Because somebody did not answer a question very well on stage does not mean she is not better than any other contestant.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, March 20, 2012