By Godwin Otang
The Cross River Government has said that it is working on the legislation that will regulate the pageant industry in the State in a bid to streamline practices and protect both organisers and contestants.
This followed calls from several quarters for a moratorium to be placed on the industry due to the increasing number of claims and allegations of sexual gratification, corruption among others which a former beauty queen, Miss Victoria Ana confirmed recently.
The Special Assistant on Administration, Mr. Noel Ugbong disclosed this on Sunday in Calabar while speaking on the radio show, ‘The Dialogue With Agba Jalingo’ on Hit FM.
“The Commissioner for tourism together with the events and management department are working on that (pageant regulation bill),” Noel said, adding that: “We are waiting for the Cross River State House of Assembly legislation that will give backings and make it a law.”
Mr. Ugbong, who is the secretary of the planning committee of the Cross River North Festival (NorthFest) pageant, also denied allegations of sharp practices, exploitation, request for sexual gratification and favoritism leveled against and averred that some contestants had attempted to frustrate the pageant.
“I am one person with a strong moral fiber, and sometimes I pride myself as putting my personality above personal gains; and as I know, even the aggrieved contestants will confess that I have been nice to every one of them.
“We tried to come up with a system that will produce an acceptable result. That led us to engaging the services of a consultant. I can vouch for myself, though I may not be able to vouch for other persons in camp.
“According to the advice of the consultant, we even had diary sessions with hidden cameras, that gave me the ample opportunity to ask them questions such as, is anybody promising them marks for sex?, Are they being compelled to sell tickets?” Ugbong said.
However, he dismissed claims that pageantry had no economic benefit and averred that there were many including; “Increased customers for the hospitality industry, more sales for the local artisans.”
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