Port Harcourt – The Rivers Government says part of the reasons for the hosting of ECOWAS Peace Pageant is to reposition the Port Harcourt city economically.
The state Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr Nnabuihe Imegwu, made this known in a press briefing to commence the 2012 ECOWAS Peace Pageant in Port Harcourt on Sunday.
Imegwu said that Port Harcourt was a city that had not been accorded its rightful place in economic and social development in spite of its position during the colonial days.
He said that the city had rich a foundation and sound historical heritage which later degenerated into breakdown of peace caused by absence of job opportunity.
Imegwu added that if the city had grown well with its foundation, it would be competing well with cities like Freetown.
He said that Gov. Chibuike Amaechi’s administration had done a lot to reposition the city, adding that the state Government brought peace, economic and social development among others in the city.
The commissioner explained that institution of the state carnival and hosting of the peace pageant were parts of the efforts to attract investors and improve the state economy.
“Peace pageant serves as one of those platforms we use to encourage visitors into the state; it has always been adding values to the economy of the state.
“It also encourages such values that will promote regional integration; any amount spent on it is a long term investment,’’ he said.
Imegwu, however, did not disclose the amount being spent on the hosting of the event, saying that it was difficult to say as the state was only giving supports.
The Contestant Relations Director, Flossy Menson, explained that the 2012 theme is “The Role of Women in Peace Building’’.
Menson said that theme was selected as a way of encouraging the women to contribute to the peace process in the ECOWAS region, Africa and the globe.
“We need to participate to bring about peace and we want the contestants to know that they can be part of peace,’’ Menson said.
Menson, however, commended Nigerians, especially the people of state, for their hospitality.
“We have heard a lot of things about Nigeria; Nigeria is a peaceful country and every year we come here, we learn a new thing about Nigeria; we are excited to be in Port Harcourt.’’
One of the contestants, Miss Hyeladzirra Banu, the Nigeria representative, who spoke, thanked the government and people of the state for hosting the peace pageant.
Banu said that the essence of the contest was to promote ideas and to prove that “African women had more than just physical beauty.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state has hosted the event five times. (NAN)