It appears that beauty pageants are jinxed in Akwa Ibom State. Indeed, there has never been any pageant in the state without controversies. It is either the organizers are accused of leaking the questions to their preferred candidates or the contestants themselves are not beautiful to participate in such competition.
There are even instances that the prizes would develop wings immediately the winners are announced, such that the supposed winners would resort to litigation.
Of all the controversies, the most devastating was the one which trailed (and is still trailing) the Miss Akwa Ibom 2004, Miss Mary Ekanem. A section of the media and even those who were involved in organizing the pageant came out with the allegation that the Part III student of Linguistics was a mother of an eight-year- old boy. She was castigated and even dethroned, such that in 2005, she was not around to hand over the crown to her successor. Instead of Miss Akwa Ibom 2004, she was derogatorily dubbed "Mrs. Akwa Ibom 2004."
So, when students of the University of Uyo recently trooped to Ibom Hall to select a new queen, everybody knew that the exercise was a controversy waiting to happen. And when the queen, Emem Joseph Udoh, a part two Microbiology student, was later crowned, people cheered and jeered.
One of the contestants told Daily Sun: "I knew I couldn’t win; but I knew who should have won; not the one they are awarding it to."
Kayode Ogunbakin, a 300 level Marketing student of the university, said: "To be very sincere, the whole thing is a flop. Through dress code and the questions, you could just pick from that and then conclude."
He said the judges were biased because they were selected from among the students’ union parliamentarians, people who never had an idea what a model should be.
"The night is a flop. The SUG is not doing anything to be sincere. Why could you put a poster that Timiya is coming and Timiya did not show up? We paid N500 for the show. What we paid for we could not get."
However, Miss FASSA (Faculty of Arts Students Association), Aniekan Mbedi, said the contest was fair and that the queen was worth it.
"She got her questions correct; she has charisma. She’s got poise; her smiles were intact. She can represent us. She is sound mentally and she has a vision; she’s focused," she said.
Miss Education Students Association (ESA), Utibe Atai, however, disagreed. As far as she is concerned, the new Miss UNIUYO is not worth it.
"I don’t think the contest was as free as it was supposed to be because the contestant who happens to be Miss UNIUYO is not worth it.
"Other contestants did well, she also did well, but from the judges and from the crowd, she was not supposed to be. She might have won the crown maybe because she knew some people there. I don’t think the result was from the judges or maybe it was already arranged. She was not worth it. I think contestant number seven should have had the crown."
The CEO of Association Event Company, which managed the event, Mr. Uduak Usoro, also a student of the school, told Daily Sun that the result might not be "peculiar to individual wishes but there’s got to be changes." He said the spectators were not supposed to be judges but supporters.
He said: "We had a score sheet. We said for the first time let Miss UNIUYO be judged based on how photogenic the person is. The idea behind this is to try to promote her as a model, to rake in revenue for the union through Miss UNIUYO Foundation. Let us judge Miss UNIUYO on how she can relate with people, how she can be accepted by friends or how she can compose herself before the crowd."
Usoro said Emem Udoh was a worthy queen for UNIUYO to receive the laptop donated by Ecobank, one year salary, one year modelling job, while SUG would provide her with an official car for her activities.
Miss UNIUYO contest appears to be a prelude to Akwa Ibom 2007 coming up on October 20. Will it be free of controversies this time?