As a young girl growing up in Ikom, Cross-River State, Isabella Ayuk dreamt of becoming a beauty queen someday. While she finally got a chance to be the Beauty Queen of South-South Nigeria (2007), Miss Global Nigeria (2009) and a delegate to the Miss Global International (World) in Jamaica (2010), Ayuk still had her eyes set on what she regards as the ultimate crown — Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria.
Mother luck finally shone on her when she was crowned the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria earlier in the year and the Silver Jubilee Queen in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the pageant.
However, as the Business Administration graduate of the University of Calabar, was settling down to assume responsibilities, a series of scandals came forth. The most notable being the fact that she was practically prematurely dethroned as the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria because she was far older than the 18-25 age limit, suggesting she had falsified her age.
Ayuk came under attack in the media and social media networks. Although the dust has since settled, the beauty queen, who describes herself as a small town girl with big dreams, says she considers those trying moment as part of life lessons.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown and it comes with the office. Being MBGN is big. Envious people are everywhere, especially when they are afraid of your rising. It is not new to me. I love every moment as MBGN, though. Dealing with envious people is like dealing with the devil. I simply ask God to deal with them while I focus on my projects. God who gave me this crown will make it memorable. I can’t move faster than God. Just watch and see what God will do for I am the Bible’s Queen Esther of our time.”
Trying to get Ayuk to comment on issues that greeted her win is akin to trying to extract water from a stone, as she would rather dwell on her Pet Projects and the demands of her office. She, for instance, declines to speak pointedly on her age and whether or not she lied to the MBGN organisers.
With the Miss Universe Competition just around the corner, the soft-spoken beauty queen, who is the 20th child in a family of 25 children, is optimistic about winning the converted crown.
“I’m looking forward to the Miss Universe competition in December. My plan is to go there as a determined Nigerian lady who believes you can do, be whoever you want to be in life and make Nigeria proud by bringing the crown to Nigeria and becoming the first Nigerian to be Miss Universe and the fifth African to win it since 1952. ’’ She boasts.
So, just how much effort has is she putting into the preparations? To this she says, “I am losing more weight, taking good care of my skin, reading and learning more, knowledge is never enough, and staying positive. Moreover, to be MBGN you have to be intelligent, so I am intelligent, even if I say so myself.”
In between the chat Ayuk reveals the emotional side there is to her, as she speaks about her late sister. Amidst tears she says, “My sister died of Typhoid fever and I am yet to get over her death. That is the idea behind the official launching of the Vannessa Manyor Memorial Foundation in Abuja on Saturday. Besides campaigning against Typhoid, my foundation will empower widows as my mother is a widow and widows are always in need of widow’s mite. Our target is rural community dwellers by teaching them ways to prevent the spread of typhoid fever, malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, opportunistic infections.
Looking forward, she goes philosophical saying, “God designed the year, 2012, as a year he kept aside to fulfil His promises. And to get to the peak whereby I can say I am fulfilled in pageantry, then, it has to be MBGN. It takes a determined soul to stay on track, so all thanks to God.”