NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has directed youth minister Lanisha Rolle to reimburse the government for the personalized commemorative medallions gifted to youth parliamentarians last month.
Minnis said costs totaled $582.40 during his contribution to the Disaster Reconstruction Authority Bill 2019.
In a statement, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture explained Rolle provided the medal as a memorable gift directly from her to youth parliamentarians during a courtesy call to the minister’s office on October 22.
Minnis said, “In view of what has been personalized, it is the government’s decision that that was a personal medal and the government should not have to pay for anything that’s personalized and therefore the monies that were spent for that, the minister would reimburse the government for the $582.40 that was spent by the government.”
A photo of the medallion showing Rolle’s face on one side sparked widespread outrage and criticism on social media yesterday.
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.”
Coleby-Davis also blasted the government over its failure to appoint a director of youth in a press statement.
“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,” Coleby-Davis said.
Some social media critics called on the government 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.”