By UbongAbasi Ise
The second edition of Uyai Akwa Ibom beauty contest scheduled to hold on Friday 12th March 2021 at Ibom Hall, Uyo from 6.00pm has already been enmeshed in scandal, with the winners of the previous edition coming out in tears to count their losses incurred while participating in the pageantry organized in 2019 by De-Niche Entertainment, an agency claiming to have earned the approval and support of the Akwa Ibom Hotels and Tourism Board and the State Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
As gathered by our correspondent, trouble began when the reigning queen, Miss Blessing Ekaeba, 21, came to know that the organizers had already started advertising the forthcoming event with posters carrying her personal photograph and being circulated on social and traditional media without any notice to her as she was yet to receive any of the prizes promised her by the organizers as widely advertised before and during the pageantry in 2019.
As evidenced on a flyer which advertized Uyai Akwa Ibom 2019 and made available to our medium, the winner was expected to get N200,000 cash prize along with a trip to Ghana, a one-year movie deal and a wardrobe allowance, but Miss Blessing Ekaeba told our correspondent that De-Niche Entertainment has not fulfilled any of those promises.
Recounting her losses, the aggrieved beauty queen said after she registered for the pageantry in 2019, she had to hire personal manager at the cost of about N50,000 while going on to spend over N200,000 on costumes and general entertainment.
Blessing Ekaeba revealed that each of the participants were compelled to sell entrant tickets to members of the public, which she managed to produce over N30,000 to the agency.
She further disclosed that the organizing agency had shown all the contestants representing 31 local government areas in the state the bank detail of about N200,000 in what appeared to be a fix deposit. According to her, this was done in a bid to encourage them to continue in the competition, but after her emergence as the overall winner, she was ignored by the agency.
Also speaking with our correspondent, Miss Victoria Augustine, who emerged the second runner-up in the 2019 edition of Miss Uyai Akwa Ibom, bitterly expressed her grievances saying the pageantry event organized by De-Niche Entertainment was a scam as she has not been contacted by the organizers to get all her entitlements as promised since the event was concluded about two years ago. She alleged that the Uyai Akwa Ibom pageantry organizers made them believed that the competition had the approval of the Akwa Ibom State government through the state ministry Culture and Tourism as well as Hotels and Tourism Board which is in charge of pageantry regulation in the state.
The annual beauty contest which could not hold last year probably because of the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, appears to come up this weekend with the reigning queen and the 1st runner-up saying they are not invited to the event in order to do formal handing over to new prospective queens.
When Mr. Emmanuel Ita Udombon, who is currently heading De-Niche Entertainment was contacted on phone, he urged our correspondent to make enquiries about his agency’s pageantry at the Hotels and Tourism Board including the State Ministry of Culture and Tourism while threatening to expose the queen’s nude picture if pushed to the wall. As our correspondent further sought to clarify if the present Uyai Akwa Ibom title holder had been dethroned for any scandal reason while the agency still use her photographs for advertisement, the enraged organizer hung up.
Miss Blessing Ekaeba had earlier disclosed that Mr. Udombon recently issued a warning, saying if he is called again on phone for the demand of her entitlements, he would take a drastic action.
Meanwhile, our correspondent has contacted Mr. Ini Akpabio, the Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Hotels and Tourism Board to ascertain the relationship status between his board and De-Niche Entertainment, but he denied knowing the agency and Uyai Akwa Ibom altogether. He said there is no way the board would allow the said pageantry event to hold on Friday if it has not gotten the approval of the board.
Effort to reach the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Orman Esin, proved abortive as he was not answering the phone calls or respond to the text messages sent to his phone as at the time of filing this report.