For Anna Ebiere Banner, 18, winner of this year’s edition of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant, there is a thin line separating dream from reality.
Anna, a student of Linguistics and Communication Studies of University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State has always dreamt of donning the crown of a beauty queen. Only last Saturday, her dream came true as she beat 31 other contestants to clinch the crown at a glamorous ceremony held in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State.
Anna Banner, who represented Bayelsa state, now will represent Nigeria at the Miss World pageant later this year in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Moments after the crowning ceremony, Banner, who is now the Special Assistant on Culture and Tourism to Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, opened up to The Entertainer.
Background: "I am from Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. I am 18-years-old. I am a student of Linguistics and Communication Studies from University of Port Harcourt. I am in 100 level.
"I come from a family of four. My parents have two children, my older brother and I. My mum and dad are business people, and my brother is into marine plumbing."
Thoughts about winning: "I feel awesome and glad. I’m overwhelmed with joy. Lots of things were going through my mind. But actually my mind was blank because I didn’t really hear my name very clearly. I don’t really know what to say but I am just too happy.
"I have always dreamt of being in this position because I have always had the passion for helping humanity, so I had always wanted a platform where I can carry out this thing."
A friend of Anna, Ambassador Uche, told her about Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant and she entered for the competition.
Experience at the booth camp: " The experience was wonderful. There were lots of fun, drama, talking, laughing; so many good things happened in the camp and I really loved it. They were good memories. At the booth camp, I learnt punctuality, perseverance and humility."
Projects to pursue: "I will concentrate on education. I just want to help my people in terms of education. I want to give them the awareness of education. I am talking about not just formal education but informal education that has to do with skill acquisition. I want to make sure people understand that education is wealth and knowledge, and to also let them know that those who have proper qualifications are able to achieve better in life.
Experience taken from this competition: "Being friendly with people is actually a good thing. You never know where you will meet them tomorrow. It’s actually best for you to be nice to people, talk to them and relate with them in a good manner."
Parents' reaction: "My mother is happy and over excited. My dad couldn’t make it to the venue of the show. There were rumours about pageantry not being healthy for young girls. But despite this, I convinced them that it wasn’t going to be the same.
Information about boyfriend: "I can’t answer that. I’m just eighteen. I don’t have a boyfriend. That’s not really my priority right now."
Heroes: "My first icon is God almighty and the second is the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. My role model is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She’s not into pageantry but I love her so much because she’s very courageous, zealous, fearless, a Christian and not someone to let go of her dream because of some kind of instability. She motivates me a lot. Also, I am really grateful to everybody including my family and friends. I love them all."
Favourite meal: "My best food is actually pounded yam. But for now, I have to cut down on that because I don’t want to add too much weight."
Hobbies: "I love writing and singing."