By Benjamin Njoku
“Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is Shatu Garko, and I am the 44th Miss Nigeria. It still feels like a dream.. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love! Thank you Nigeria for your support throughout this journey, my heart is filled with gratitude. To the @missnigeriaorg, thank you for finding me worthy of the crown.”
These were the memorable words of Shatu Garko celebrating her victory on Instagram days after she was crowned the 44th Miss Nigeria.
She succeeded Etsanyi Tukura from Taraba State, who won the beauty pageant in 2019.
Garko revealed that she had always wanted to be a Miss Nigeria. However, her dream finally came true last Friday when she kissed the crown.
“Dreams don’t have expiration dates, keep going,” the beauty queen wrote on IG.
By winning the pageant, the 18-year-old became the first Muslim to wear the Miss Nigeria crown since its inception in 1957.
She wore her hijab during the contest. Her joy knew no bounds after the crown was placed on her head.
Like her predecessors, Garko is expected to portray exemplary qualities and serve as a role model for young women in the country.
Being the first hijabi adorning Muslim from Kano state to be installed as Miss Nigeria, all eyes are definitely on the beauty queen and she can’t afford to disappoint her generation.
Unfortunately, Garko’s emergence as the 44th Miss Nigeria has sparked controversies with some Islamic organizations and individuals kicking against her participation in the beauty contest.
However, following reports that Hisbah police in Kano had invited Shatou Garko and her parents for interrogation, the Hisbah Commission yesterday said “Shatou and her parents were not invited”, adding “it was just a question posed to the commission’s commander, Mallam Haruna Ibn Sina, who also advised them.”
Meanwhile, reacting through his Facebook page, the former Senator representing Kaduna Central District, Shehu Sani showered encomiums on Garko for winning the pageantry without exposing her nudity, and for becoming the first to win the keenly contested position wearing hijab.
Sani said Garko clinched Miss Nigeria crown with “honour and grace, defying odds, encumbrances and the norms and lifted the trophy.”“Miss Shatu Garko wore a hijab and won.
She proved there’s beauty and glamour in decency. She disproved the charm of obscenity. She marched with honour and grace, defying odds, encumbrances and the norms and lifted the trophy.
“She is a model who can be a role model. It’s not about the pageant or the beauty. She won for all those who don’t believe that beauty is nudity.
“She won for all those who wear hijab like her. She should be appreciated by our puritans for threading a different or unusual path and emerging victorious,” Sani said.
Garko walked away with a cash prize of N10 million, a luxury apartment, a car and ambassadorship.
She’s expected to follow in the stead of past winners who carried the crown with dignity and honour.
There were also those who were dethroned or forced to resign before the expiration of their reign.
From the time of Grace Atinuke Oyelude who won the maiden edition of the pageant in 1957, down to the time of Sylvia Ansa Edem who won in 2002 and Etsanyi Tukura who also won the pageant in 2019, Miss Nigeria beauty pageant has been ranked the most revered and recognized pageantry in this part of the world.
And Garko must do everything to sustain the tradition.