Anita Ukah, emerged the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria for 2018, beating 36 other contestants at the glittering event held at Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, Bayelsa State, in September after entering the competition as Miss Imo.
The 23-year-old pretty young woman, who shrugged off competition from other finalists, told ADEDAYO ODULAJA how she deals with men coming her way and plans to represent Nigeria at the Miss World 2018 in China.
You emerged the MBGN but not much is known about you, especially in terms of background and what you represent.
I am from Imo State. I am from a family that pushes you to do more and brings out the best in you. In my family, you are encouraged to do more and it has helped me to know that I cannot settle for less. I always aim higher for myself in everything I do. I am from a comfortable family; my father is a contractor while mother does business. I have seven siblings; four sisters and three brothers. It is fun having a large family, as it means that I can always seek advice from many people. My siblings show me love and ensure I don’t make mistakes.
What is your journey like in the area of education?
I went to Emmanuel International Academy for my primary education in Aba, Abia State. From there, I went to International Secondary School in Orlu, Imo State. For my university education, I studied Medical Laboratory Science at the Igbinedion University in Okada, Edo State. I have no doubt that studying Medical Laboratory will help me as a beauty queen. As a queen, you are meant to promote a cause that can change lives. S, I will use my knowledge in school to achieve this.
Models still battle a lot with getting their parents to support them, especially when it comes to pageants, what is your story?
My parents have been supportive of whatever I do. When I told my mother I wanted to contest for MBGN, she had already concluded I would win it. He supported me with prayers, as she was really excited about it. My father too was supportive.
How would you describe the MBGN as a whole since you have been a part of it?
Winning the 2018 MBGN pageant has been a great experience; it has put me out there. As a kid, I have always wanted to be the Miss World and the idea remained in my head for a long time. But as I was getting older, the idea left. As an undergraduate, I won the Miss Igbenedion University pageant. Before now too, I had tried to enroll for Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria two times but something came up. However, this year, I finally obtained a form to contest and it turned out well.
What main factor could you point to as the propelling force of your success?
I don’t know what exactly made me win because we had many beautiful and intelligent ladies who contested for the crown. I guess it was the grace of God. When I was announced the winner, I could not say a word for few seconds. I was standing but it seemed I wasn’t there. When I finally regained consciousness, I was so happy and I knelt down to appreciate God for giving me the crown. There was no time I doubted my ability to emerge as the winner of MBGN even when I knew other ladies stood a chance too. Whenever I set my mind on anything, I try to stay positive as much as possible. Once you start letting negativity to set into whatever you do, it has a way of pulling you down. I just kept telling myself that I knew why I was there and I tried to work towards it. I didn’t think one person was better than me; I knew my objective and I set out for it.
On the verge of getting where you are, what were some of the challenges you still recall now and then?
So far, I have yet to face challenges as a beauty queen. While I know challenges will come my way, I hope I will be able to conquer them all.
While noting that your work has a lot to do with fashion, what kind of a person are you regarding fashion?
I don’t have a favourite style and I don’t really follow trends. I like to wear things that make me look good and comfortable. But now, I have to wear more makeup. Usually, I can go a month or more without wearing a makeup. We are always in front of the camera frequently and it is really important I look good as a beauty queen. That is the only thing that has changed about me. Apart from this, I am still the same girl everyone knew before the pageant.
What mode of relaxation do you embrace when you want to relax?
When I need to relax, I like watching television and reading books.
Many people know about the restriction on relationship for beauty queens but how are you able to ward men off?
I am not in a relationship. Of course, men come to me but I tell them to hold on. At present, I have other priorities and I am focused on achieving them. Also, I have not changed my set of friends since I won the MBGN pageant. My friends have been supportive from the onset and they are still supportive. They also understand that I cannot spend much time with them as I used to.
Do you have anyone you look up to in terms of role models?
I don’t really have a particular person I look up to in the industry. But I get inspirations from people who have contributed greatly to the development of entertainment in Nigeria.
How are you looking forward to your participation in the forthcoming Miss World pageant?
Preparations are already in place for the Miss World 2018 pageantry scheduled for December 8 in Sanya, China. Of course, I expect it to be a different ball game but I plan to use to the experience I had during the MBGN competition to contest for Miss World. I hope to return home with the crown.
What other plans are you working on either for now and in the future?
By the grace of God, I will be crowned the Miss World in December. In the next five years, I hope I would have grown in my medical and modelling profession. I want people to see me and remember things I did as a beauty queen. I want to be remembered as a humble queen who came carried everyone along and created positive impacts.