It appears that there is no end in sight to the scandals that have rocked the 2011 Miss Maliaka Ghana beauty pageant. The season which began with the arrest of a young man who reportedly scammed several young ladies to have sexual relations with him in order to advance into the competition, ended with the crowning of Geraldine ‘Gerry’ Partington which was met with widespread disagreement because many people believed that based on the ‘make or break question’, the 1st runner-up Alexandra Ayirebi-Acquah deserved to win.
Miss Alexandra Ayirebi-Acquah has for the first time gone public with what she believes was unfair treatment towards her during the season and ultimately resulting in the final decision for the winner of Miss Maliaka 2011. She comments: “Honestly I am very disappointed in the way things were done. I feel that there was little transparency and fairness as the competition was ongoing, and I was hoping that it would all be irrelevant during the finale but unfortunately since the proper thing wasn’t done, I have to tell my story so that people would know what happened and hopefully the right thing would be done.”
According to Alex, when she won two of the weekly tasks in the reality TV series, there was no spotlight on her in the media but when the ultimate winner of the competition even came up as a runner-up in any task, her name managed to appear in the media hence creating some form of unfair advantage.
“We had a number of tasks and each winner was exempted from eviction and given some media attention as well. I won ‘Miss Eloquence’ alongside another contestant and the week after that; I won ‘Most Charitable Queen’ when I raised the most amount of money for charity. The director of the TV show promised me that the task was going to get a lot of attention because it was the highest amount of money that had ever been raised in the pageant but nothing was done to that effect. The subsequent week, for Miss Photogenic we had celebrity photo shoot and bridal photo shoot. Gerry won the celebrity photo shoot competition and I was runner-up. Her picture was strategically placed on the front page of The Daily Graphic newspaper.”
She added that when she noticed that whenever the other girls won a task, they were mentioned in the newspapers but whenever she won, nothing was mentioned about it, she asked the producers about it. She was told that the organizers usually send press releases out to the media but newspapers like the Graphic Showbiz, The Mirror and the Saturday Daily Graphic would choose what they want to write. But for Alex, the explanation was not enough because coincidentally it was only during the times that she won a task that those publications chose not to publish.
“In my humble opinion and solely based on events on the finale, it was all an attempt to downplay me so that if the preferred candidate should win it would be clear that she was the one that was doing well from the very beginning.”
Alex said the producers told her that she wasn’t getting enough votes throughout the season but she is of the belief that she could only do so much for herself, but needed the public to vote for her because the competition isn’t about who has the most money to vote for herself but whether the public believes in you that you can do your job and do it well.
“I think the reason why my votes were not coming was because people did not know me well and my achievements throughout the competition were not highlighted in the newspapers for people to know. All delegates should have received equal press for their achievements so that Ghanaians could make their decision on who is the best candidate; you don’t deprive Ghanaians from making that choice by promoting one person constantly all the time.”
Charter House, the organizers of the pageant have explained on some platforms that the decision of who won the crown ultimately was based on a number of factors including pre-judging and public votes. However, Alex disagrees because according to her, the CEO of the event met the delegates before the finale to explain that the public votes, the talent show, the speech on the night of the finale, and the pre-judged segments will only get delegates into the top 5. And that, a new score sheet will be given to judges who would make their decision based solely on how delegates answer the common ‘break or make’ question. Fellow contestants Mikafui Doe, and Emmanuella Esinam Awunyo – who also made top 5 – confirmed that indeed those were the rules read to them before the grand finale. Mikafui also complained that she didn’t understand why after the first eviction show, the producers stopped showing to them the results from the public voting.
Answering whether she felt that the judges came to the finale with a preferred winner, Alex said: “My take on the matter is that judges are allowed to have their favourites but the judges were called to be objective and make a decision that would be in the interest of the delegates and the Ghanaian public. But with the way things turned out it seems they had some preconceived ideas. My question is based on what? Is it based on the performance throughout the season, based on conduct, or based on interactions with other delegates; what would be their basis of even choosing the winner as their favouirite?”
Alex’s manager also added that Charterhouse needs to make its statement clear; if they made a mistake in choosing the wrong person and how are they going to right that wrong? Or are they still sticking to their story by bending the rules and saying that prejudging and sms votes were what decided the winner. He comments: “They can’t be on the fence on this one because it is not fair to carry these girls out of their way; they have school and other things to do; they invest so much time and energy into this and then the organizers just downplay it as another pageant and then move on.”
He also commented that the prizes are still not clear because after more than a week, nobody has contacted Alex about what she will be taking home as her prize.