My mum is my biggest fan. Interestingly, while I was growing up, I didn’t understand why she was so hard on me, a disciplinarian.
Outgoing 41st Miss Nigeria, Mildred Ehiguese, has used her one-year tenure to give expression to the ideals of the pageant, by touching lives across the country. As her tenure winds down, the brilliant and soft-spoken beauty queen took time to tell Sunday Sun about her achievements and offer advice to young girls who dream to become queens just like her.
What was your aim at the beginning of your tenure as Miss Nigeria?
In my private capacity as a normal young girl, I have always had the heart for reaching out to others. So, when I won the pageant, I just leveraged on the platform to do more. I knew it was just one year and I didn’t just want it to slip by. I wanted to do as much as possible within the one year. And you know that it takes time to build and resources too.
I wanted to work with as many organizations as I could, and make as much impact as I could. Before you know it, 12 months can just pass if you don’t do as much as you can, and you will be looking back at the expired tenure with regret. That was why I kept doing as many project as I could. Interestingly, even before I was crowned I had a number of projects in my head, and began working on them. I still have not done a number of them yet.
So, you have some things lined up after your tenure as Miss Nigeria?
Definitely. There is so much to do and it is going to continue. I am also going back to the university to study for Masters’ degree and will also continue my entrepreneurship activities. And of course, my non-governmental organisation will continue to function. It is called the Mild Heart, and it focuses on children living with mental illness, sickle cell anaemia and orphans. I studied psychology. When I graduated I worked at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, in the Psychiatric Department of the respected health institution.
What was it being Miss Nigeria? Please tell us about some of the projects you executed during your tenure as Miss Nigeria?
I have done about seven or eight projects. The first one I did was an awareness program with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), to create awareness on human trafficking. And then I had a malaria awareness programme in collaboration with Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI). Also with YEDI I organized a skills project for girls, which involved teaching life skills to girls, to enable them survive in the society. We also taught them things like personal hygiene and craft. I also had Dark Lagos Outreach, which was inspired by the Otedola Bridge disaster.
I visited burn victims of the fire disaster at the trauma centre of Gbagada General Hospital.
After the explosion, there were people who could not afford the medical bill because nobody plans for that kind of tragedy. I reached out to them through the assistance of my organisation and we donated items and materials that would aid their recovery.
At first, our intention was to just help the victims of the Otedola bridge disaster but by the time we got there, we saw more people and there were some kids. So, we went back to the drawing board and I reached out to everyone in the trauma center.
I have also had Back-to-School outreach in Ajegunle area of Lagos, where we gave out school bags and shoes, books, pens and notebooks. I am working on projects with Mr Paul Okono against human trafficking. To teach children the environmental importance of tree planting, I organized a campaign to plant coconut trees with them to celebrate children’s day.
What advice do you have for young girls who want to become beauty queens?
The advice I have for girls, who want to contest for a prestigious crown like the Miss Nigeria pageant is that they should come prepared for work. This is because it is just one year. You don’t want to be six months in your tenure and discover that you are just engaged on familiarization tour. I also want you to know that there would be hurdles, so you should come prepared to work. It is not just about the glamour and being photographed. Being Miss Nigeria is about hard work, because you are a role model and girls will look up to you. You also have to come with the mind to set good examples, get your principles and values right. If you are not stable, and you don’t have a focus, then you are going to derail from what you stand for. So, you need to be very strong and have it at the back of your mind that you have come to work.
Where are you from?
I am from Edo State but my mum is from the Northern part of Nigeria. I grew up in the North with my mum, and you know what it is like growing up with your mum as a first daughter. You would always have clashes, we still do. But my mum is my biggest fan. Interestingly, while I was growing up, I didn’t understand why she was so hard on me, a disciplinarian. I can now appreciate all she was doing then and why she was pushing me so hard.
Now, I am beginning to see it all and I understand why she was the way she was.
If she didn’t instill those virtues in me, I won’t be able to take the kind of decisions I am taking now. So, I would say that my mum influenced my life greatly. My dad also influenced my life, they gave me their best and I am happy for that.
What is your beauty regimen like?
It is just God. I don’t have any beauty routine and I do not have any special diet as well. Many people say my mum and I look like sisters.
What is your definition of style? What are the things that you like to wear?
I think every girl has a liking for fashion. I won’t say that I am different but then I feel like fashion should be a luxury.
When I say that I mean that you shouldn’t kill yourself to look good. Just don’t sacrifice yourself for fashion. You should wear things that fit you, fit your body and make you look good. In as much as every girl wants to look good, you can dress in a descent, simple way and still look good.