NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Youth Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle yesterday pushed back at criticisms leveled by the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP), telling reporters the government is the primary financier of the national parades.
The JCNP accused Rolle of attempting to undermine several aspects of their management agreement without consulting the JCNP and its members, namely the inclusion of a new “B” category group and plans to restructure the parade’s management committee.
Speaking outside Cabinet, Rolle said: “In respect to all matters concerning Junkanoo, the first and the premier committee is the Parade’s Management Committee mandated by government of which the JCNP is apart and plays an integral role.
“That committee is going to have a chair, and once they would get together on those matters, it should not be an issue. I think working together is the best way to resolve any issue.
“The important thing is we want to grow Junkanoo and we want young people who want to be a part of the parade to be a part of the parade every year.”
But the JCNP insisted that it appointed a Parade Management Team (PMT) in August to work on producing the parade, conduct training sessions and coordinate the judges course – which is schedule to be concluded next week.
The group said its members were stunned and insulted over Rolle’s announcement at a presentation to announce seed funding to the Junkanoo Groups for the 2019-2020 Junkanoo Season.
The group further claimed its members had already voted and rejected the application by “The Immortals” due to its late submission, and informed the group it would not participate in the order of entry drawing or be judged.
But Rolle said that is not solely the JCNP’s decision to make.
“The government of The Bahamas is the primary financiers of the national Junkanoo parades,” she said.
“And as I’ve indicated, it is led by the Parade’s Management Committee, of which the JCNP is apart and so that body decides in terms of allocation of prize monies; that body decides in terms of penalties or disqualification and that body will determine it.
“It won’t be any particular entity or private entity or particular grouping. So it’s a working together and it’s a work in progress.”
The JCNP further warned that Rolle’s proposed actions will negatively impact the upcoming parades, adding the roles of the government were clearly outlined in its management agreement.
Yesterday, Rolle maintained she did not have a copy of that agreement.
“I’d be grateful to have a copy of that executed contract,” she said. “I don’t have a copy of it.”
At the end of the JCNP’s statement, the group said it first entered into an agreement with the Bahamas government for the management of the New Providence parades in 2008 and subsequently amended that agreement in 2011.
The group then outlined the obligations of the JCNP based on that agreement.
According to Rolle, the ministry is seeking to avoid some of the issues experienced with the most recent parades.
“We note some anomalies last year in terms of the judging, and the public is looking and depending on the government to ensure transparency, fairness and the integrity of the process for which the people of The Bahamas invest in every year,” she said.
“…The PMC will determine what are the rules, what adjustments need to be made and that’s why I simply alluded to the fact that there were anomalies.
“My information is that no anomalies were addressed or concluded, and so we don’t want incidences to happen.We want people to have trust and integrity in a parade that they pay to come and see.
“We want those kinds of incidences not to reoccur.
“And so once the committee works together with the JCNP, I believe all will be well. But it’s for the good of the country, good of people, good of Junkanoo, the good of culture.”
Shortly after the New Year’s Day Junkanoo parade, audio recordings circulated between a purported female judge and George “Bommer” Armbrister, a reported costume contributor for the Genesis group.
In the recordings, the purported judge solicits money from Armbrister in exchange for reducing the scores of rival groups.
At the time, JCNP President Silbert Ferguson said the JCNP had formed a special sub-committee of its own, working closely with the police, to investigate the claims.
Yesterday, Rolle said nothing ever came out of those investigations.
Since her tenure as youth minister, Rolle has reportedly had several issues with organizations attached to her ministry.
During his monthly press conference at the Progressive Liberal Party headquarters, PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis questioned vv . vv Rolle’s “professional fitness” as Cabinet minister.
“The minister of youth, sports, and culture continues to demonstrate a noticeable degree of incompetence in the execution of her ministerial portfolio,” Davis said.
“The disrespect highlighted in statement by the JCNP indicated a total disregard on behalf of the minister towards the legal mandate of JCNP and her inability to recognize that her role as minister does not supersede the function of the JCNP.
“I call on the prime minister to have a frank conversation with the minister with a view of bringing a resolution to all involved parties.
“Minister Rolle’s professional fitness as Cabinet minister is of great public concern. She continues to lose the confidence of young Bahamians and the cultural community.”