Chioma Obiadi is the 40th winner of the highly coveted Miss Nigeria beauty pageant. In this interview with Lukmon Akintola, the Geography undergraduate from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University talks about being Miss Nigeria, her pet project and more.
How did your journey to becoming Miss Nigeria start?
I have known about Miss Nigeria for as long as I could remember. So, I can’t place where I heard about it from. But I grew up having people calling me beauty queen. My mum is also in the habit of calling me queen darling. So, Miss Nigeria pageant has been on my mind for as long as I could remember.
It would be safe to assume that modeling has always been your thing
For me, it’s a passion. It’s not about doing something because you can’t find what you want. You do what your passion is all about. I love the environment, I love Geography and I would love to practice what I study.
What was your winning strategy?
The fact that I truly wanted it was my edge in the contest. All of the girls at the Miss Nigeria pageant were beautiful. They were very intelligent because at the Miss Nigeria pageant, intelligence overrides beauty. I saw a lot of girls and there were a lot of times when we had to talk about some sensitive topics. But I was very passionate about it. It was like a life, my life. So, I gave it all. It was all or nothing.
There would definitely had been a time when you almost gave up, was there?
There was not really a time that I doubted myself, but I acknowledged people. There were a lot of beautiful and intelligent girls in the camp. But I still believed in myself – maybe because of my mum and my dad. They were always supportive. When I talked to my mum she was always like just do what you can and you will be okay.
What did winning mean to you?
It was a dream come true. I have always been a pageant person from way back when I was a kid. However, to emerge Miss Nigeria I had a plan. It was supposed to start with my department to my faculty, my university and my state, my country and then the world. I had it planned, that was what I wanted, but my dad didn’t want me to take part in pageants until I was in school, so I had to wait. Year one I contested for Miss Faculty of Environmental Science and I won.
Then, I went for Face of Unizik and I also won. Year two, I went for Miss Anambra and I didn’t win. At that point, it was like I was shattered. I cried from the stage. A friend Amaka who came third wondered why I was crying because she didn’t understand. She wondered why I was crying when I came second, while a lot of people had been dropped from the start. But I understood what had just happened.
For me, it was like my plans had being disrupted. I felt bad and just decided to return to school and face my studies, but when you have a passion; it has a way of always resurfacing. So, as much as I decided to focus on my education, my passion for pageant kept on coming up.
What has being Miss Nigeria deprived you off?
I don’t have a lot of time like I used to. Miss Nigeria is like a job, it is like a nine to five job. I have so much to do now. The fact that I am still in school and joggling Miss Nigeria with my education makes it hectic. I don’t have the time to play that much anymore.
Your colleagues in school must idolise?
I think that they still see me as Chioma. Those of them that knew me before still relate with me as Chioma, but those who didn’t know me see me as Miss Nigeria.
So you were once again given an opportunity to fulfill your dreams of becoming Miss Anambra again?
I had a wonderful time in camp. We had entrepreneur skill acquisition with Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), after everything on the final day I won and my dream got back on track.
You talked about the Green Girl Project, what is it about specifically?
The Green I believe relates to the environment, while girl relates to the female sex. The Green Girl Project is a project which tries to sustain the environment knowing that there are several environmental issues. We have a lot of environmental issues in Nigeria, but the problem is that we don’t know that we have them.
The Green Girl Project is here to sensitize Nigerians about the environmental issues we have. We will reach out to as many people as we can because the problem of the environment is eating into us slowly and we are not aware of this.
The project will be an eye opener, it is supposed to wake Nigerians up on what the environment can be like and what it also can be like if not taken care of. For instance, in the northern part of Nigeria, because of the desert encroachment we lose 350,000 hectares of land yearly to desertification, erosion in the south is still part of Nigeria with a lot of lives and properties lost.
When it has not affected us personally, we tend to ignore these issues. I put it to you that 40 million Nigerians are being affected through water pollution. They get dysentery, diarrhoea and even cancer through water pollution. If I could reach out to people and tell them how this affects them as individuals then they will be more conscious and ready to take part in making our environments better.
Tell us about the opportunities that emerging Miss Nigeria has afforded you?
Being Miss Nigeria has made me grow up faster than I would have. It has opened me up to a lot of opportunities. It has made me wiser than I would have been if I had not being Miss Nigeria. This is a wonderful platform for me to let my voice be heard. It is an opportunity to be a true ambassador of the environment. Well, I am still on and I hope that before my reign is over I can do all that is planned.
Part things being queen brings are new male admirers, right?
I think that is a thing that every girl has. We find our way around it.
Do you have admirers who would want to bully you despite being Miss Nigeria?
Not at all, Nigerians are happy and good people.
It is common to hear pageant organisers asking their winners to keep off men during their reign, have you been told this?
Because I have a reputation to protect, I think that if they say that they would only be looking out for me.
Are you confirming that you have indeed been told so?
It is not a big deal. There are reverend sisters in the convent. Concerning pageant organisers asking you to stay away from men during your reign, I think our parent have been telling us that since when we were young.
On a serious note, at Miss Nigeria, we are aware that every misconception can be news. That is why we are very careful because what you do and think is nothing might be a very big deal to someone else. The implication on the brand is also something to be considered because what you do can damage the image of the brand.
To some extent, that is why we are given an apartment and they ensure that at all times they know where their queen is. We also have to consider the fact that winners are role models and a lot of young people look up to them. As such, it would be wrong to send out the wrong message to these young ones.
What personal goals have you set for yourself?
I would love practice the Agricultural aspect of Geography. I would love to own a clothing line not as a fashion designer, but as a businesswoman. I would like to start from picking my fabrics, planting them. You know that we grow cotton in Nigeria, but a lot of people don’t know. So, I will like to have a farm someday where I will grow my fabrics, those which can be grown in Nigeria. Of course, some of them are going to be exported while others are taken to the factory where they are converted to yearn and then I would make fabrics for the masses.
What are the perks that come with being Miss Nigeria?
Being Miss Nigeria, of course you get a car, an apartment, free picture session with Studio 24 for a year and a lot of other things. For a while now, the winner of Miss Nigeria haven’t being going for international pageant. But luckily I got one. I will represent Nigeria in Miss Intercontinental.
Will you tell us about your beauty routine?
I would say it is rest. Because as much as you can use a lot of products if you don’t get enough rest all the beauty products won’t manifest on you. I try to stay as natural as I can; I use moisturizer to keep my skin hydrated. And because I am dark-skinned I try to be careful about the products I put on my skin because once it is discoloured I cannot get it back. My skin colour is my reputation and I wouldn’t want to lose it for anything.