Classics, Interviews

Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, Isabella Ayuk addresses her many controversies: ‘They made me more popular’

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REIGNING Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, Isabella Ayuk, will, in a matter of weeks relinquish her crown as her one-year reign is gradually winding up.  For that one year that she represented the Silverbird brand, stories which nearly marred her reign were all over town.  Immediately she was pronounced winner of the 2012 MBGN in Benin City, Edo State on Saturday, May 5, 2012, tales about her person circulated from being over-aged to being in a romance with a federal lawmaker but the veteran beauty maintained all those controversies made her popular during her reign.

“Those things they said about me don’t really exist.  Perhaps, they exist only in the imagination of the tale bearers.”

Isabella, who is currently doing her NYSC in Abuja spoke more on her reign and future plans.

1-Fullscreen capture 8282015 42351 PMOne year as Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, what was the experience like?

It has been an awesome and challenging experience, which has moulded me in so many ways and positioned me for the future.  Being a queen is not an easy task because you have to always be at your best in terms of dressing, walking, speaking, sitting, wearing a smile at all times.  That’s challenging and at the same time great.  I must say that I enjoyed the ride.

What has been the benefit of wearing the MBGN crown for one year?

There have been a lot of benefits from owning a car, cash prizes, lots of gifts, trips abroad, getting to meet important people in Nigeria and abroad.

What don’t you like about being MBGN?

I love everything throughout my reign.

Which project did you embark upon and how far did you achieve your aim?

I did a lot of projects, campaign against typhoid fever, distribution of typhoid vaccines and educating the public on the impacts and dangers of this disease.  Provision of shelter for widows, scholarship for the less privileged, renovation of schools and houses for widows, creation of small scale businesses for widows.  All these will continue, via my NGO, Vanessa Manyor Memorial Foundation.

Do you consider the crown as a burden?

The crown can never be a burden as it is a platform to help the widows and the less privileged.

What has really changed about you in the last one year?

I have learnt to give more to the less privileged as I have realized that giving remains a better option.

Shortly after you were crowned, many stories surfaced about your real age, can you set the record straight?

As MBGN winner, there will always be stories about one thing or the other.  It’s the normal thing.  I gave my real age which was verified by Silverbird, so I wasn’t bothered about the rumours as it made me more popular.

Some people even insisted you bought the crown that you were above the age to contest MBGN?

These people actually do not have names or faces.  At first, it was the story of how I lied about my age then came the dethronement story.  Where were these people when I went for MBGN twice and finished top 10 and won Best Traditional Costume award?  And in 2012 with determination and persistence, I won and people who were obviously not happy about my victory cooked up stories and obviously some of these people are going back to contest for MBGN 2013, what an irony?

Tell us about the schools you attended.

Federal Government College and University of Calabar, Cross River State.

How do you feel when the first runner-up was asked to represent Nigeria at Miss World pageant in your place?

I felt happy because I made the choice to go to Miss Universe pageant in America to enable me have time to launch my NGO and be present at the NYSC camp which was the same time as Miss World camp.  Besides, Dami is like a younger sister to me.  She accepted the switch perfectly. I can’t bother about what people say because some people are just on this earth to talk about others. I made the right decision for myself and my future.

Another thing that needed your clarification is the alleged romance with Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives.

This is hilarious.  So, it’s not a true story?

1-Fullscreen capture 8282015 42218 PMStory that made the round then was that he actually sponsored your contesting for the MBGN?

What is the whole story about for goodness sake?  People should learn to get their facts right.  MBGN is a free and fair competition and can’t be bought.

Tell us about your fashion business.

Bellesabel Dress Collection was founded by me as an entrepreneur to bring about employment, provide jobs for women and youths and help develop rural areas as 10 per cent proceeds from Bellesabel goes to my NGO and other sister NGOs for the campaign of typhoid fever, malaria and other diseases in the rural areas.  Bellesabel Empire is all about classic dresses for beauty pageants, weddings, dinners, parties, everything occasions and events.  It is a world of glamour.  Our office is at 10, Durban Street, off Ademola Adetokunbo, Wuse 2, Abuja.

What inspired your taking up a fashion business?

I have always been a lover of beautiful dresses, and all the pageants I have been to, girls always walk up to me to ask where I got my dresses.  So, I thought why don’t I start my own label?  That brought about Bellesabel.

What will be your next step after MBGN and NYSC?

A lot of things are lined up, starting up my own beauty pageant to helping motivate young girls in the rural areas, young girls who have always wanted to be beauty queens but had no hope of achieving that dream and securing a role model to youths in their communities and using same to touch lives positively not forgetting their culture and heritage.  It’s all about the rural young girls and I will be featuring in a movie.  So many things in the pipeline, I will keep you posted.

Tell us the most memorable things you won’t forget in the last one year as MBGN.

My charity work (because I realized giving is a better option than receiving), the day I was crowned MBGN 2012 and as the Silverbird Jubilee Queen.

How do you keep in shape?

I exercise and watch what I eat.

  • This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, May 21, 2013

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