Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced in the House of Assembly yesterday that Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle will reimburse the government for the production of medals with her photo on it that were presented to young people last month.
“I see all over social media and both daily [newspapers] this morning talking about what my minister of sports has done and a bunch of arguments with a picture of herself personalized and on the medals,” said Minnis at the end of his contribution to debate on the Disaster Reconstruction Authority Bill, 2019.
“Mr. Speaker, in view of what has been personalized, it is the government’s decision that that was a personal picture on medals and the government should not have paid for anything that is 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.”
Rolle, who was excoriated in social media circles over the matter, did not speak on the issue in the House, yesterday.
However, in a statement on Tuesday, her ministry said, “The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture seeks to clarify the photo of a commemorative medallion that has recently been circulated on social media.
“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 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 said the medallions were issued to youth parliamentarians during a courtesy call on the minister on October 22.
It said Rolle provided them “as a memorable gift directly from the minister to the young people paying the courtesy call to her office”.
“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,” the ministry said.
Privately, some senior FNMs expressed embarrassment over the matter, opining that the decision reflected poor judgment on the minister’s part.
Since she entered politics, Rolle has at times been a controversial figure.
She resigned from the Senate in 2016. Though she cited personal reasons, her resignation came amid controversy that had surrounded her.
Last year, Minnis removed her from the Ministry of Social Services amid reports that she was not getting along with staff.
And Rolle recently came under fire from the Junkanoo community over decisions related to the upcoming Junkanoo parades. The Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence said this week it felt disrespected by the minister.
That prompted more social media debate around Rolle’s performance as minister.
Minnis also addressed that matter in the House yesterday, indicating that this year’s parades will proceed as normal — the suggestion being that a decision supposedly made by the minister in relation to the parades will not stand.