Chair of the Miss Western Nigeria Beauty Pageant, Bayo Adeleke, tells OMOTOLANI ALAMU about the two-year-old contest and plans for this year’s edition taking place on May 27. Excerpts:
What motivated this initiative?
Yes, we are looking at Western Nigeria, the entire Yoruba nation. This goes beyond the traditional six states of the south west. Specifically, we are looking at nine states comprising the six states of the south west and extending to Kwara, Kogi and Akoko-Edo in Edo state also of Yoruba extraction. We believe we should create a platform for the girl child to be able to interact on a globe scale and unleash potentials, seek fulfillment of their aspiration and dreams.
How has it been since you started, what’s been the feedback
It has been exciting and great. We have only done this for a year and for a brand that was created barely a year ago, I can say it has done extremely well in terms of acceptability, value addition it has brought and reception among the rank and file across Yorubaland.
Do you have sponsors?
You know you need to be very strong on the ground before you can have support that will queue behind you. Last year, we had support from Kakanfo Inn (Ibadan) where the previous beauty pageant was held. We had Zomark food, Nigeria Bottling Company, Guinness Plc who provided drinks for entertainment of guests but not the kind of corporate sponsorship we desire. Like I said, for a brand that was just launched, that’s not bad. I believe that as we build more of the brand, we will attract the big sponsor.
What is the age range of contestants and what are the criteria?
The age range is 18 to 26 years. All the contestant needs is to be a Yoruba girl child. This automatically qualifies you.
What novelties are you adding this year?
This year, there will be side attractions for other participants. We want to have dancing competition, drinking competition and lots of music. Last year, we didn’t let the contestants answer questions on Yoruba history, custom and traditions which we are bringing on board this year. We want to test their knowledge about the race they are aspiring to represent. We would be asking questions about people, places and events.
What will the winners get?
We have a branded car for the queen (winner) and an official apartment during her reign in Bodija, Ibadan. She is entitled to quite a lot of things like wardrobe allowance and fuel. For every of her official engagement, she has a driver to take her around going by what is contained in the contract she signed. The 1st runner up gets a cash prize of N250.0000; the 2nd runner up gets N150.000 while there are consolation prizes for other contestants.
What do you say to people opposed to beauty pageants?
I think people are entitled to their opinions. It is a very free society where we have freedom of speech. But one man’s meat is another man’s poison and from the angle we are coming from, Yoruba land, we can’t all sleep and face the same direction so people should have various views. But I think there is also need for all pageants organizers to always have very solid vision and missions statement as to why they are doing what they are doing and to keep to agreement and terms to avoid scandals and other things that make people pass negative comments on beauty pageants. That is what we strive hard to do in Miss Western Nigeria Beauty Pageant because we are building our brand to represent the whole Yoruba race of over 50 million people. We are extremely conscious of the need to protect the integrity and image of this pageant as well as Yoruba land.
Can you allow your female child to contest in a beauty pageant?
What challenges did you face in organizing the contest and how did you solve them?
One of it has to do with negative perception of people about pageants which we earlier discussed. It is a very critical issue, like when someone asks you ‘what are people like you doing in beauty pageant’? But we have to tell them that there is a way to make a difference and there is also a philosophy and a very powerful mission behind giving the Yoruba girl child a platform of self- actualizations, self expression, bring all the children of Oduduwa together under the same platform. We believe we would get sponsorship because that’s another key area where we are yet to find our feet but it is a matter of time. Those are the basic challenges I will say we have.
Do you mix pleasure with work?
Not in Miss Western Nigeria Beauty Pageant; it is strictly business.
Is it very demanding in terms of time, money?
Yes, it could be very demanding because it goes beyond organizing Miss Western Nigeria Beauty Pageant competition. It is something you have running all year round. You can’t stop on the night when the queen is crowned. The queen needs to deliver, also be engaged in activities and give value because these are the things that promote the brand beyond the night of the pageant.
Why did you limit it to Western Nigeria, why not the whole country?
It’s a free society, everybody has the right to carve his/her own niche in the market and see where you want to play. It also depends on the underlining philosophy. We have something we are driving at. The company promoting Miss Western Nigeria Beauty Pageant has other brands that are not pageantry related and they are targeted at the south west; the social economic development of the region. It has to do with an overriding philosophy to ensure the social economic development of the south west. Even when we have the pageant, it still falls within spectrum of what we have defined as our area of operation. That doesn’t exclude people from the south east, south south or north from having similar pageant or even have a national brand like Miss Hot Leg. People are free to address whatever area of the market they want to address.