The countdown to the 40th edition of Miss Nigeria pageant has begun. Sales of form for interested candidates started in mid-November with auditions taking place from Tuesday, November 29, 2016 through Saturday, December 3, 2016.
36 gorgeous girls representing different states in Nigeria are ready to slug it out in the competition. Tagged Empowering Women Beyond Beauty, this year’s edition promises to be the mother of all as the girls would go through different empowerment training from Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC). The winner would go home with a brand new car, N3 million salary and opportunities to travel abroad.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with the reigning queen. Pamela Lessi Peter-Vigboro who would soon hand over to a new queen. She left us into her experience as Miss Nigeria and her next moves after her reign…
How would you describe your reign so far?
It has been a good one though challenging. When I first took the crown, I didn’t know much about it. What I do know is that it is a glamorous thing, you get to see the queen on TV. I had it in mind to create change but I still couldn’t comprehend the capacity. When I got there, I noticed it was a whole lot more than that, I had to do a bit of work, write proposals, give speeches and all of that has shaped me into a better woman.
How challenging would you say your reign was?
It was challenging in different ways. First, I am an introvert.
…And you came for the pageant?
Yes, that happens. We all have dreams. It was a big challenge because I had to conquer that fear and come out. I think that was the greatest challenge I had. When I won, I got to know you can do anything as long as you put your mind into it. The attention came from all quarters. I had to keep up to expectations and all of that
Another challenge I had was talking in public. That always gave me butterflies in my stomach. I get nervous but I got used to it after a while. It is a whole lot better now.
As an introvert, who introduced you to the pageant?
I have always heard about Miss Nigeria. I have always wanted to be a pageant queen. I have been to two pageants before Miss Nigeria, Miss Ogoni, I was a runner-up for Miss Niger Delta
What really drew me to Miss Nigeria was the values. I align with their values. I know that the queen is not judged based on her physical attribute. They judge her brain to know how intelligent she is. I know going for Miss Nigeria would make me better because of the experience I would be exposed to.
What perception did you have about Miss Nigeria before putting in for it?
The glamorous aspect. Then, I have always been involved in community projects. I feel Miss Nigeria would be a huge platform to pursue that, and the money of course.
What would you say has changed about you in your one year reign?
I think my thought pattern improved. When I came in, I had to put myself in a positive mindset all the time. Sometimes, it felt overwhelming. I might just feel depressed for no reason. There was so much pressure. I had to snap out and keep myself in a particular state.
When I won, I just came out of school and went for my youth service. I didn’t really have a lot of discipline. But when I won, I had to adjust, make up very early, around 5am because we had to go to some places
Discipline and a positive mindset have stuck because I have done them over a period of time.
Would you say there was pressure from men as well?
There was pressure from every side, even with boys. As a young lady, there is no way some men wouldn’t want to take advantage of my position. As a young girl, I was able to manage that before Miss Nigeria and I was still able to manage that when it came. The major part I would like to stress on is the expectation of who you ought to be. A lot of girls don’t even know who they are in the first place. Anybody willing to go for the pageant should bear in mind that nobody’s option defines your reality.
You have to remember who you are or find out because you are going to need your sense of self to keep moving forward.
What would you say you have learnt so far?
I enjoyed the experience of having to go out. I was nervous at first. You know the things that we love to do most are the things that we fear. I really like to inspire people. I also had to host some events which was amazing. I think I did a lot. It added to my portfolio as someone growing up.
What next now that your reign is almost over?
I love to write. But right now, my interest is in photography. When I am done from here, I would love to follow my passion.
Like you stated, one of the reasons for coming for Miss Nigeria was because of the money, how did you spend your money?
I would love to share that, but I can’t go into details. I saved, tried not to spend and that was it.
What has life taught you as a person?
Life has taught me to find who I am.
Tell us some Ogoni projects you’ve worked on?
What Miss Nigeria is doing which would continue in the next five years is environmental related. It is on creating awareness about the environment from the point of view of a woman. We realized that women are really affected by a whole lot of things going on in the environment.
We are the ones that really interact with the environment. We encouraged the women to make use of environment sustainable practices. The other queens would continue from where I stopped.
Apart from that, I have worked with few organizations. One was an organization that creates awareness against cancer. They also help cancer patients to survive. We also had campaigns for young girls, which I spearheaded.
We had campaign for women in Edo state. We had a road race. The platform was called Team Up for Cancer. We raised money for cancer patients. I visited orphanages. We also went to train some students on basic computer skills such as Microsoft Office and photography.
Do you still keep your friends?
Yes, we are still in touch, though the relationship is not as constant as before. Some of them thought I didn’t have time at first, but over time they got to know that my title was demanding.