We need to look beyond what is happening, and look into the exploitation of girls in Nigeria. While we cannot comment on how Pageants are run in other countries, we are beginning to realise that in Nigeria it might be a cesspool of rottenness and exploitation. Take the recent scandal about the former Miss Anambra, Chidinma Okeke. For those who are not aware of the scandal, here’s a brief recap.
The Chidinma Okeke Story
In October, a sex video was released of the embattled beauty Queen. The video showed Chidinma and another girl, her close friend having intercourse using a cucumber.We can’t say for sure if the video would have gone viral if she’d been caught on camera with some boy, however her sex partner was a girl. In Nigeria, that is a scandal of epic proportions.
Although she took to her Instagram to deny the allegation, claiming that her face was superimposed in the video, another video was released not long after and this time, there was no denial. She quietly handed over her crown and the perks that came with the position.
She called for a press conference, but didn’t show up because she said her life was being threatened. According to her:
“The moment I made public my intentions to speak with journalists, I have been under siege of threats by my blackmailers and traducers. They are seriously threatening to shoot me at the press conference if I ever open my mouth to say the truth about the ugly episode. Since I have no protection, and if I die now the truth will be buried forever. It’s my intention to save not just myself but other girls and upcoming pageants by letting the world know the real truth and what we go through.”
To further cap the situation, the organizers of the beauty pageant, the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) dissociated itself from the sex scandal. In this entire circus that has been going on, that was perhaps the saddest and most ridiculous thing to happen.
The Culpability of the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) in the Chidinma Okeke Case
It is difficult to know where to begin. A lot of the attention has been focused on Chidinma Okeke, understandably. What people are failing to do is to look closely at the Anambra Broadcasting Service, the organizers of the Miss Anambra Beauty Pageant, and beauty pageant organizers in Nigeria.
The general practice is that the contestants are given several challenges, which they have to overcome in order to qualify. One of those is the sale of tickets for the pageant. For the Miss Anambra pageant, our sources said the contestants were given 10 tickets of One Hundred Thousand Naira (the equivalent of 200USD) and they had to sell all ten tickets in order to qualify. As such they were called the ‘1 Million girls.’
A system that sets such atrocious targets for young girls to meet is not only corrupt, but it is rotten at the core. For girls who do not come from rich families, what the Anambra Broadcasting Service was essentially doing, was asking these girls to go into prostitution. They were responsible for placing these girls in such a vulnerable situation. So we find it criminal that they dissociated themselves from the entire fiasco.
Why Chidinma Okeke’s Cucumber is Not the Issue
Chidinma Okeke said she was forced and then blackmailed. We choose to believe her. It isn’t that she couldn’t be a lesbian, she very well could, but that’s not the point. The fact is that someone held that camera. Someone blackmailed her. And someone released or ‘leaked’ that video on the internet. What we (and Nigerians as a whole) should focus on is those criminals who feel it is alright to blackmail a vulnerable young woman.
We are asking the authorities of Anambra State and the government of Nigeria to fish them out. Also, we are calling for the investigation of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) with particular focus on the Miss Anambra Beauty Pageant. What is going on is criminal and the culprits should not get away with it.