NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A commemorative medallion with the photo of Youth Minister Lanisha Rolle gifted to youth parliamentarians during Youth Month sparked widespread outrage and criticism by members of the public yesterday.
However, in a statement clarifying the matter, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture advised the medallion did not replace the usual youth award medals and pins.
A photo of the medallion was circulated on social media showing the minister’s face on one side of the medal.
Many people expressed confusion over its design and questioned why it was necessary.
“National awards should transcend politics or class,” posted by Facebook user Chavone M. Butler.
“It is unfortunate that these new leaders are so polarized”.
In another FB post, Michelle Lewis said “In my view, she has not earned this honor. Besides she’s not held office long enough to make such contribution and be recognized nationally. Also, Lanisha has seemingly caused a lot of conflict, controversy and meddling.”
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Shadow Minister of Youth JoBeth Coleby-Davis called the move “narcissistic.”
In a statement lambasting the government over its failure to appoint a director of youth two years later, Coleby-Davis said, “I am confused as to what sound reason would warrant a minister’s narcissistic behavior to use taxpayers’ dollars to abandon the usage of national symbols and to replace them with her own image on national awards for young people.
“The minister’s performance thus far does not justify such a conceited decision.”
Some social media critics called on the goverment to recall the medals and have them replaced
But the ministry suggested that that is not necessary.
“The commemorative medallion which has two sides is not an award and did not replace the National Youth Award nominee medals issued to nominees during the National Youth Month celebrations,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The medals issued displayed on one side the ministry’s name and theme and on the other side, the coat of arms as is standard.”
The ministry explained that on October 22, the youth parliamentarians paid a courtesy call to the minister’s office and at that meeting, Rolle provided the medal as a memorable gift directly from her to the young people.
“On one side of the commemorative medallion was a photo of the minister upon whom the courtesy call was made, and the other side was the year and theme of National Youth Month 2019,” the ministry added.
“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.”