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2004-02-26 17:12:55

Bannister Calls Wisdom Worst Minister Ever

Bahamas Association of Athletics Association president Senator Desmond Bannister has put fireworks to his relationship with Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Neville Wisdom.

Bannister said Wisdom is the 'worst' sports minister he has ever had to deal with and has to understand he cannot hold sporting federations hostage by holding back funds looking for their respect.

According to Senator Bannister, through a Government grant $1,000,000 is allocated to sports development in the Bahamas and the major sporting federations receive $40,000 a year from this fund.

However, apparently Wisdom has decided not to give the BAAA its $40,000 this year and has instead charter a flight for the Bahamas Carifta team to Bermuda on Bahamasair.

The BAAA was told about this last week Friday in a meeting Bannister said, even though he urged Wisdom not to do this because they already had chartered a flight. Bannister said that Wisdom responded in a very arrogant manner that he does not really care and will do it his way.

“I just want to put into perspective that first of all I refrained from criticizing this minister and I have refrained from criticizing his performance. But right now the minister has taken things to an unreasonable point," said Bannister.

“The minister seeks constantly to interfere with federations and he shows little respect for federations. He has been very arrogant in the manner he has dealt with us and he feels he can tell us it is his way or the highway. That doesn't work when you are dealing with volunteer organizations.

“Where people are giving of their time freely and are trying their best to help young people in this country. They are not civil servants that should follow the orders of the Government. To have a minister take a position like that it is difficult to deal with. I was very annoyed in the way he continues to deal with us, as he makes decisions and have to come back and apologize for those decisions."

Bannister said he has tried hard to work with Wisdom and has refrained at all cost to rate him or disparage him in the press so far. He stressed this is not a political move because his record speaks for itself.

However, he said he can't just sit back and allow Wisdom to continue to treat federations in the Bahamas the way he has been treating them.

The BAAA had already chartered a flight to Bermuda and had worked out an agreement with Jamaica for them to occupy half of the plane en route from the Bahamas to Jamaica.

However, during the meeting Bannister said Wisdom commented that he would call the prime minister of these countries and tell them to look for their own transportation.

Bannister said before they started down this road they made contacts with Bahamasair and they found out that Bahamasair could not fly to Bermuda.

So he informed that they then approached other airlines, made arrangements to take the team, contact other neighbouring countries to see if they would want to join in on the flight and agree to provide transportation for their teams.

Bannister said he is sorry but Wisdom has nothing to do with Carifta and he cannot run their organization and will be found that he is left out if he does not support them.

“This is going to hurt a lot of kids and hurt a lot of opportunity. We are going to have to go out and try to raise the money ourselves. We are going to contact our corporate sponsors and ask them to come to our aid," said Bannister.

“What is particularly disappointing about this is that the Minister has taken away an opportunity for us so we could sell a few seats to raise money for uniforms for our athletes. What he has done is try and create a situation where he controls the operation of the BAAA and he controls the organization of an initiative.

“This is one of those initiative's few federations can come up with. All we have done is ask the Minister to support it financially and instead he has tried to take it over. He has also been wrong because he made statements about Bahamasair," Bannister concluded.

Julian Lockhart, The Bahama Journal 

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