The Miss Nigeria Ghana beauty pageant is one of the most prestigious in Ghana, set up by Nigerians residing in Ghana, who felt the need to create such platform to help in unifying Nigeria and Ghana, and project the rich cultural heritage and the image of Nigeria in general. This is equally designed to debunk the bad notion or belief that Nigerians are dubious people. In an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, chief organizer of the event, Franklyn Cole, revealed that the beauty pageant also serves as a platform for business owners who wish to penetrate the Ghanaian market, with over a million Nigerians residing in Ghana and more.
What was the motive behind the Miss Nigeria Ghana beauty pageant?
The idea came up in 2012, and was put together by two companies, Delight Communications and D Emperor Media. Though it is solely organized by D Emperor Media, now. But back then, we discovered that Miss Nigeria pageant is not anything new when you talk about the Diaspora. We have Miss Nigeria USA, Miss Nigeria UK, Miss Nigeria South Africa, Germany…I mean, it’s almost all over. And considering the number of Nigerians living in Ghana, we thought it wise for us to stage Miss Nigeria Ghana beauty pageant, because we discovered it’s a good avenue for us to promote the cultural friendship between the two countries, and also to promote our cultural heritage as Africans. No one can tell our story as it is, unless we do it ourselves, especially when you are living abroad. God was so good to us, our first production in 2012 was next to perfect and well patronized, thus when we approached the Nigerian High Commissioner for Ghana, he found the project well positioned and gave his blessings and full support.
What were the challenges during the process of staging the pageant?
The challenges then were numerous. However, I must add that most were challenges one encounters when planning an event of such prestige. When you talk about sponsorship, pageantry is not what every company wants to invest in. Sponsorship has been our major challenge aside some other petty management issues and putting all the girls together. We have lots of Nigerian corporate bodies and companies in Ghana, but they really don’t see pageantry as a platform to ride on. But so far so good, we’ve been pushing it and we are making progress. In 2012, City Light supported the pageant and it really helped. So, aside the financial aspect, organizing the main event is not easy too, but we have tried and we hope it’s going to get better.
What’s the lineup of events for this year’s edition?
The event is coming up on October 17, to be precise at the National Theatre. But the audition is on September 19, at the Airport View Hotel in Accra, Ghana. And interested participants can get more information on our Facebook page; Miss Nigeria(Ghana) and instagram; @missnigeriaghana, and the form goes for only 50 cedes.
What are the qualities the organizers look out for in the contestants?
Basically, you must be a Nigerian by birth to qualify. And the person must either be a student or a resident in Ghana. Once you are a Nigerian and you are living in Ghana, you are eligible to participate and must be within the ages of 18 and 25.
…so somebody living in Nigeria can’t participate?
No, the person must work or reside in Ghana, in case such person wins, there won’t be any issue about shuttling Ghana and Nigeria.
What are the documents they need to provide to show they are Nigerians and that they truly reside in Ghana?
We ask for their birth certificate at the audition. Their school identity card, or resident permit, in case they are not students. These are the factors we look out for, so as to ensure we are not making a mistake in choosing those that are qualified for the beauty pageant.
Does sexual harassment really exist in beauty pageants?
I will talk for Miss Nigeria Ghana (laughs). MNG is not the usual beauty pageant that we all know. It’s a platform set aside to choose a beauty ambassador, and if you bring immorality into it, it will distraught the plans and you might end up not achieving the purpose for which it was created. It’s a corporate beauty pageant which entails grooming young, vibrant ladies, and making them see reasons why they need to impact lives. So, when you bring all these immoralities in, you end up destroying the brand and end up not achieving what you set out to achieve. In this case, we give our judges the upper hand to decide the finalists and the overall winner as well. Organizers have little to say when it comes to selecting the finalists and who eventually becomes the queen at the grand finale. The highest say, goes to the judges and it’s difficult for us to influence their decisions. I always tell the girls not to listen to any body that tells them he or she can help them to get the crown because they are only being deceived. They are the only ones that can help themselves get to the top. We are more careful about what we do. We set the records straight from the beginning at the audition. Even if I tell any girl that I can make her the queen, that person is making a mistake, and that actually even tells us that such individual does not have the attributes of a queen.
What official activities will the winner be involved during her reign?
When we started NMG in 2012, there was something we set out to achieve. We discovered that if you look at the perception Ghanaians have about Nigerians, they are like; Nigerians are thieves, scammers, cocaine pushers and all. So, we felt that aside promoting our cultural dexterity, it is also an avenue to rebrand the image. But this year, we’ve stepped up from rebranding, and it’s about promoting our image. Since 2012, we thought of impacting Ghanaians and we came up with a pet project on breast cancer awareness and that has been our focus since we started the pageant. And basically, every queen that has emerged embarked on this campaign in all the 10 regions of Ghana. So basically, that is what the NMG Foundation has on ground for the intending queen. Aside that, it’s our own way of giving back to the host nation.
What is the star prize this year?
We’ve had two editions and this year is the third. In 2012, we had City Light as our main sponsor, and we were able to give out a Kia Picanto car. And in 2013, we gave out a Hyundai. And in 2014, due to some challenges, we couldn’t stage the event. Aside all these, there are other incentives which includes a modeling contract, publicity, and much more. So, this year we decided to leave the car out of it…
But I thought they are supposed to take the car with them after their reign?
There is a difference between an official car and giving out a car as star prize. But this year, the star prize is cash, a trip to South Africa, and Abuja, one year modeling contract, and one year image branding; those are stuffs that you can’t even quantify with cash. Aside these, the management team of 2015 decided that most of the contestants are students here in Ghana, and a car is of benefit to their career, it’s more or less a liability, even though the organizers take care of a lot of things while in office. But if we give out a car of what benefit is it to the girl. We rather support them in their career and give them the necessary exposure to achieve their goals and add more value to them.
What is going to set this year’s event apart from the previous ones?
That is why we are using the National Theatre, because we discovered that the brand has come to stay. For the previous editions, we discovered that we always had more than we expected, the turnout was always huge. Also this year, we are bringing a couple of international artistes; one from Belgium, Nigeria and a couple of Ghanaian artistes. And the host is exclusive, we can’t disclose now. So, there are a lot to watch out for. It’s going to be fun, glamorous and exciting. It’s the third edition, so we are staging it in a grand style.