For a conglomerate which tentacle does not extend to tourism, entertainment and fashion, it was arguably a big business risk for the Ekulo Group to venture into beauty pageantry. But then, risk is an integral part of every business venture and this hugely explained the conglomerate’s plunge into beauty pageantry in the mould of the just concluded Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, MBGN pageant.
Ekulo’s sponsorship of the 2017 MBGN was the group’s first ever interest in the beauty/tourism sector of the economy. Stakeholders agree that the overwhelming success of the 2017 MBGN contest which produced Ugochi Ihezue, Miss Kebbi, as winner and new MBGN Queen, bears commendable testimony to dexterity, hard work and careful planning on the part of the Ekulo team saddled with the task.
The buildup to the competition for the MBGN crown started with sell of the forms for interested young ladies across the country. Those who indicated interest were later screened and 36 of them were then selected. The finalists then started camping. As part of the camping activities, the finalist paid courtesy call on Evan Industries Limited, a member of the Ekulo Group. Meditol Medicated Antiseptic range of soap which was the sponsoring brand in the MBGN pageant is manufactured by Evans Industries Ltd.
Essentially, Meditol Medicated and Antiseptic range of soap protects heals and beautifies. It’s a family soap with five variants namely Meditol Original with Avacadoextracts, Meditol Classic with Shea ButterExtracts, Meditol Gentle with Olive Oil , Meditol Cool with Menthol, Meditol Herbal with Aloe Vera Extracts. Apart from Meditol, Evans industries also manufacture other household items, including the popular Eva range of soaps and Hawaii range of Papaya & Carrot Whitening soaps.
Evans Industries Limited is a 100% Nigerian Company with absolute belief in Nigeria with a proud maxim. ‘We are proud of Nigeria’ Evans enthuses. The company says it want Nigeria to be proud of it too. According to Evans, “in making the Meditol soap range, Evans Industries limited, is on a mission to prove that Nigerians can produce skin care soaps that are at par with international standards. The Meditol range is the next level in antiseptic and medicated soaps making waves in the country”
The contestants had a busy day as they were taken on a guided tour of the company’s factory and production line. On hand to perform this task was Evans’ General Manager, Daniel Nwaiwu. Apart from Meditol, girls were introduced to the company’s different products, including Hawaii range of Whitening soap consisting Hawaii Papaya and Hawaii Carrot and the Eva range of Complexion Care soap-Eva Herbal, Eva Romantic, Eva Gold, Eva Classic, Eva Forever and Eva Ivory.
Quality Control Manager, Gbenga Adepoju, told the awe-struck MBGN finalists that the company was constantly conducting research to come up with new products for the satisfaction of its teeming consumers. Nwaiwu on his part said the wide acceptability of Evans’ product across different strata of consumers, stemmed from the quality nature of the products which he affirmed compete favorably with international brands of the same genre as the company and its operation are ISO 9001/2008 certified.
The girls beamed with smiles as General Manager of the Ekulo Group, Joseph Okonkwo eulogized them, describing them as epitome of complete woman, characterized by elegance, grace, decency, intelligence and role model for other women. He told them that Evans Industries Limited was poised to enhance their God-given African beauty by producing and make available to them and other consumers, total body care products.
Apart, Okonkwo, Nwaiwu and Adepoju, Emaka Oramadike, Ekulo Group’s Marketing Manager and Media adviser to the Group, Ingram Adichie Osigwe, were also on hand to ensure the MBGN finalists had a memorable visit. Brimming with joy, the girls received various products of the company as gifts and later posed for group photograph with Ekulo officials.
Icing on the cake came on the night of Friday September 15, 2015 when Ugochi Mitchell Ihezue emerged. Pomp, glamour and splendor were on parade as panel of judges comprising First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun, Nollywood actress, Stephanie Okere-Linus, Senator Lanre Tejuosho among others meticulously sift through the 36 MBGN contestants to crown Ugochi as winner and Nigeria’s new and foremost beauty queen. MBGN pageant is Nigeria and Africa’s biggest beauty pageantry.
The ambience of Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, venue of the MBGN contest was electrifying and the night classy. The hall was brimming with the La de crème of Nigeria fashion, beauty, tourism and entertainment industry stakeholders that thronged there to witness history made. A touch of elegance was further added to the enchanting evening with the red carpet beautifully embossed with colours of Meditol Medicated Antiseptic soap, the sponsoring brand.
Though from Akokwa, in Imo State, Ugochi, a Fine and Applied Arts graduate of University of Benin, represented Kebbi state in the MBGN pageant. Closely following Ugochi in the keen contest was the first runner up, Miss Sokoto, Stephanie Agbasi. Miss Oyo, Emmanuella Yaboh was the second runner up and Miss Plateau, Winfrey Okolo the third runner up.
Some of the MBGN finalists also won consolatory crowns. These are Miss Amity won by Miss Yobe, Ndali Eno, Miss Photogenic/Congeniality went to Miss Anambra, Maristella Okpala. It was a double crown for Ugochi as she was also bestowed with Model of the year.
Double portion also was the lot of Miss Sokoto, Stephanie Agbasi as she grabbed Best Costume and MBGN universe while Miss Bayelsa, Rebecca Hampson got Best Evening Wear, Miss Oyo, Emmanuella Yaboh went home with MBGN ECOWAS while his Plateau counterpart, Winfrey Okolo got MBGN Tourism. Over 350 gift packs branded in Meditol colours were shared at the event with all the contestants getting special packs.
Before the final selection of the new MBGN Queen and winners of other categories of the pageant, the girls dazzled the gathering with breathe-taking night and beach wears. Selection process for the winner of the exalted MBGN crown saw the panel of judges trim the finalists from 36 to 15 through a very transparent elimination mechanism. From 15, the list was pruned down to 5. It was from the 5 that Ugochi came tops and the runner ups emerged. Moments after she was pronounced winner, Ugochi was crowned by the outgoing queen, Unoaku Anyadike.
Among dignitaries that graced the 2017 MBGN contest included fashion enthusiast and socialite, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Publisher of Daily Times Newspaper, Fidelis Anosike, Marketing Manager, Emeka Oramadike, General Manager of Evans Industries, Engineer Daniel Nwaiwu, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Joseph Agada, Tochukwu Aralu, Chibuzor Nnaebue, Media Adviser to the Ekulo Group, Ingram Adichie Osigwe.
Others were Vice President of the Silverbird Group, Guy Ben Bruce, former Executive Vice Chairman of National Communication Commission NCC, Ernest Ndukwe and Registrar/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria, APCON, Alhaji Bello Garuba Kankarofi, Popular comedian and actor, Okey Bakassi , Nollywood personalities, Ejike Asiegbu and Caroline Ekanem Danjuma, Major Ekulo distributor, Amaco Investment Limited was also represented.
Quality musical entertainment was provided by Olamide, Harry Song, Ara among others. Colorful cultural displays also spiced up the night amidst visible excitement on the faces of the attendees.
Elated at the success of the 2017 MBGN pageant, Guy Bruce was full of effusive praises for Ekulo for sponsoring the beauty contest.
– Ingram Osigwe