Abuja - Nigeria — Nigeria's Hyeladzirra "Zirra" Banu has been crowned Miss ECOWAS Peace Ambassador 2012, after beating 26 other contestants at the pageant held recently in Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria's Rivers State. Miss Annelise Konaté of Cote d'Ivoire emerged the first runner-up in the annual competition, while Miss Keshia Ferguson of Ghana came third as the second runner-up. Zirra, 23, and who holds honours degrees in International Relations, Political Science and Communications, went into the competition as the reigning Miss ECOWAS Nigeria, demonstrated a brilliant show of intellect, elegance and eloquence at the regional pageant which also featured traditional dance and a peace forum.
The new Peace Ambassador, who succeeds Miss Fatoumata Diallo of Guinea Bissau, said her goal is to execute development projects working with ECOWAS and partners. Zirra has a vast experience with international organisations and think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C. She has also demonstrated a passion for volunteering through organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Amnesty International, and has served in Abuja, Anambra and Adamawa, her home state, as well as in Michigan, Texas, Washington D.C., New York and Iowa, USA. Zirra is the CEO and founder of DorcaSapel Foundation, through which she executes projects that address development challenges, and as a DJ, model and communications scholar, she enjoys books, photography, travel and music. She sees the ECOWAS Peace Ambassador platform as an opportunity to promote peace and champion youth empowerment initiatives in the region.
The ECOWAS PEACE Pageant, organized by Ghana-based 702 Productions, is the most prestigious pageant in the region, aimed at promoting the ECOWAS Youth Agenda and instilling peace in the region. The latest edition held on 14th December 2012 was attended by several dignitaries including Ambassador Erika Bennett, Head of Mission for the African Union (AU) Diaspora African Forum, ECOWAS officials and the deputy Governor of Rivers State, Engr. Tele Ikuru, who represented Governor Rotimi Amechi. The event also featured presentations by Grammy Award winner, Joe Thomas, as well as Nigerian artistes Asa and Brymo among others.