By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
SOCIAL media erupted yesterday when images of pins with the face of Youth, Sports & Culture Minister Lanisha Rolle on them surfaced online.
Mrs Rolle was also under fire elsewhere – with Senator JoBeth Coleby-Davis criticising the minister for failing to appoint a director of youth.
The pins were given to young people who participated in Youth Parliament events last month. The cost of the pins featuring Mrs Rolle and who paid for them is unclear.
A Facebook page associated with Mrs Rolle said the “photo with the minister of youth sports and culture is a commemorative coin provided by the office of the minister during a courtesy call by the 2019 youth parliamentarians. The coin has two sides: one side reflecting the 2019 theme and the other side with the photo of the minister issuing. The commemorative coin did not replace the usual youth award medals and pins that were issued to awardees during youth month”.
That explanation, however, didn’t pacify many critics.
One Facebook user said: “Two sides, four sides, it doesn’t matter, your face should not be on it. If the honorees face isn’t there, how yours get there? I hope the persons receiving them give them right back to you since you so in love with yourself.”
Another user said: “Your face should not have been on the coin, period.”
Said another user: “Welcome to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas! You just can’t make this nonsense up! I need to know if my tax dollars funded this?”
Another user said: “I can’t think of a more egotistical and nonsensical thing than this ever happening before.”
In response to the criticisms, the ministry released a statement, saying: “The commemorative medallion circulating in social media showing one side with the Minister’s photo, and another commemorative medallion showing the coat of arms is not a true reflection of the National Youth Month nominee medal issued or the commemorative gift presented to youth parliamentarians during the courtesy call. Any narrative and/or image circulated with the intent of communicating that the commemorative medallion replaced the National Youth Award Nominee Medal is false.”
Mrs Coleby-Davis said that Mrs Rolle’s failure to appoint a director of youth was the greatest disservice by a minister to young Bahamians.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Senator said: “Rather than appoint a director, the minister’s hiring of a consultant creates an administrative vacuum that challenges the core functionalities of the ministry. We accept that consultants have their roles but their role is not the role of a director. The absence of a director of youth translates into the void of institutional knowledge, weakened administrative synergy, institutional confidence and organisational and cultural integrity.
“The minister of youth’s negligence in leaving the post of director of youth unfilled for two years is a direct disregard for understanding the commitments the ministry is mandated to fulfill in the duties to young Bahamians.”
“Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the minister of youth’s capacity as a minister of the government,” the statement continued. “There are more young Bahamians unemployed, challenged by the social and economic pressures that are the direct result of this government’s policies.
“Many talented and deserving young Bahamians are excluded from the national development of The Bahamas. Thus the absence of a director of youth makes addressing the country’s youth empowerment goals difficult.
“The minister has abandoned her duties without understanding that she has abandoned critical, core areas of her mandate. This, she has done – whether by ignorance or lack of action or her remarkable ineptitude – and this has ultimately resulted in a platform that is seen as toxic to itself and deteriorating the productivity and potential of the Ministry.
“I remind the minister to avoid being entrapped in her personality and understand that the minister does not supersede the general function of a government ministry.”