AMIP News Condemns Baseless Pan African Visions Article Attacking the Integrity of Outgoing AU Ambassador Dr. Chihombori-Quao and Invest in Africa Magazine

Filed under: HEADLINES |

Washington, DC

October 25, 2019

In a rare but unanimous decision by AMIP News leadership, the first of its kind since its establishment in 2004, the organization issues this statement to condemn an October 20, 2019 post by an online news platform by the name Pan African Visions. This statement is based on AMIP News’ first-hand experience working with Ambassador Chihombori-Quao since December 2017. The organization considers Ambassador Chihombori-Quao to be one of Africa’s most effective and visionary public servants ever, and takes a stand in her defense.

The Pan African Visions post, which is a classic example of quack journalism, is simply a combination of misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies. It baselessly discredits the integrity of outgoing AU Ambassador Chihombori-Quao and states that she awarded the publishing contract to AMIP News, the publisher of Invest in Africa magazine – an AU Mission publication since January 2018 – through some unethical means. Pan African Vision’s recent article against Ambassador Chihombori-Quao and Invest in Africa magazine are irresponsible and reckless and clearly suggests that it has an ulterior motive and something to gain from publishing it. It is opportunistic in nature and an unnecessary smear campaign that Africa does not need at this critical time.

Any attempt by this or any other media outlet or individual, including African Union staff, to provide another reason for her termination outside the October 7 letter issued by AU Chairman Faki is an effort to malign Ambassador Chihombori-Quao and her legacy in Washington, DC. Not only do such personal attacks undermine the hard-earned reputation of an individual who already had a stellar professional, advocacy, and business record before coming to Washington, they further reinforce Africa’s negative image globally and damages the very African Union brand that the ambassador has worked hard to elevate through projects like the Invest in Africa magazine. Indeed, 1.27 billion Africans and millions of people of African descent in the diaspora pay a heavy price with one such irresponsible online post. We at AMIP News owe it to our brand and our global readers to call out Pan African Visions and the author Ed Duche and demand an immediate retraction of a bizarre composition of fabricated lies and unverified information.

Africa Media-Image Project, Inc.

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Invest in Africa Magazine

Since AMIP News was commissioned to produce Invest in Africa on behalf of the African Union Mission in Washington, DC in January 2018, its executives have worked very closely with Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao to produce four world-class editions of the magazine including a special one for Africa Day celebrations in Washington, DC, in May 2018. Refer to the 2019 editions below.

In the process, AMIP News CEO and its Vice President developed a strong understanding of her vision, passion, and values, partly due to the number of hours they have had to personally work with Ambassador Chihombori-Quao on each edition, sometimes up till 1am. The African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa has never had this kind of prestigious, quality, and informative publication in its history. There has never been a single publication that has provided visibility and favorable coverage of the African Union’s activities and officials as this magazine has done, and Africa and the African Union Commission owes Ambassador Chihombori-Quao and AMIP News a thank you.

Invest in Africa magazine is a sacrificial labor of love by Ambassador Chihombori-Quao and AMIP News staff. During the production of the January 2019 edition under the sub theme – African Women Rising – Ambassador Chihombori-Quao insisted that AMIP News use the photographs of the 5 current female AU commissioners (based in Addis Ababa) on the cover without her – just one sign of her selflessness in this endeavor. There have been several other instances since then.

The Ridiculous Article                                                  

In his article titled Please Hold Your Horses… A Word of Caution About the Dismissal of the African Union Permanent Representative to the United States of America, Ed Duche references an internal African Union document which could have only been provided by a staff in either Washington, DC or Addis Ababa. The alleged document has the following header.

Alleged violation of Procurement Procedures, Abuse of Authority/Misuse of Office and Conflict of interest.

It states that: Ambassador Dr. Quao cancelled the MOU with Newsdesk Media and single sourced the contract for the production of the magazine – Invest in Africa – to AMIP family business at the cost of $60,000 USD…

In this day and age when facts can be verified with a single phone call or by a few clicks, the above statement is an embarrassment to the journalism profession since Ed Duche failed to uphold the most fundamental tenet of journalism – fact checking.

Here are the obvious problems:

1. Alleged violation of Procurement Procedures

The very first word above in this suddenly discovered investigation report is “alleged.” To attempt to discredit the ambassador’s reputation and the magazine on a mere allegation is a weak foundation to begin with, and AMIP News points to the writer’s unprofessionalism to base an entire story on a mere allegation.

The writer states that “The investigation report was very damning to Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao. It described in detail a stream of procurement violations, misuse of public funding as well as instances of conflict of interests in details and concluded by ascertaining the veracity of the whistleblower allegations and recommended sanctions against the Ambassador.”

AMIP can state categorically and with authority that this statement is false for the reasons listed below.

I. Ambassador Dr. Quao cancelled the MOU with Newsdesk Media

UK-based Newsdesk Media published Invest in Africa from 2011 until 2015. The company went out of business and did not produce a single magazine in 2016 and 2017. By the time Ambassador Chihombori-Quao arrived in Washington, DC, an MOU with Newsdesk Media was nonexistent. There was no contract in place that the ambassador could cancel. AMIP News’ first publication was in June of 2018. Since that time until August 2019 when AMIP News released the fourth edition, a former employee of the defunct Newsdesk Media has courted AMIP News with a partnership proposal, touting his special connections and ability to deliver advertising revenue. AMIP News never moved forward with a partnership proposal and it is obvious that the former Newsdesk Media employee will not be approaching AMIP News if his former employer were the legitimate holder of a contract with the African Union Mission.

II.    AMIP Family Business

The African Union Mission has no arrangement with AMIP Family Business. AMIP Family Business does not exist, neither is AMIP a family business. Africa Media-Image Project, Inc. (AMIP) is a Washington, DC corporation incorporated as far back as 2004. The organization was commissioned to produce Invest in Africa on its own merit and track record and not via any family links with Dr. Chihombori-Quao or her husband Dr. Quao. Ambassador Chihombori-Quao interviewed AMIP News executives at the Mission and reviewed AMIP News’ publications before throwing the challenge to AMIP News to prove itself by delivering the first edition on a shoe-string budget.

AMIP News is a highly reputable, Washington, DC-based, Africa-focused, education-oriented media organization that builds important bridges between the United States and African countries. The organization has produced high-profile documentaries covering US-Africa relations and has several of its previous publications listed below at many U.S. universities and presidential libraries. Its 2017 historic publication United States & Africa Relations: The Obama Presidency was considered for a Pulitzer prize under the US History category. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have both written personal thank you letters to AMIP News for two of their publications.

For Pan African Visions therefore to reference the organization and casually cast AMIP News as a “mom and pop” organization striving to clinch a deal with the AU Mission at all cost, without knowing the history, investments, and successes chalked over the past fifteen years is highly reprehensible.

Notable AMIP News Publications:

United States & Africa Relations: The Obama Presidency – January 2017

Produced in conjunction with the Africa Society and Launched by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Obama Administration

The United States & Ghana: Celebrating Over 5 Decades of Friendship & Progress – March 2012. Launched at the Embassy of Ghana by Ghana’s then Foreign Minister

The United States & Nigeria: Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship & Progress – October 2010

Commissioned by the Embassy of Nigeria and jointly launched at the Embassy of Nigeria and the Bolger Center in Potomac, Maryland by the then Nigerian and US Ambassadors

The United States & Ghana: Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship & Progress – May 2010

Launched at the Embassy of Ghana, Washington, DC by the then ambassador to the United States, in conjunction with the Embassy of Ghana

III. At the Cost of $60,000

This is perhaps the most outrageous statement by the writer. Very simply, The African Union never paid AMIP News $60,000 per edition, and it is ridiculous for Pan African Visions to put this in writing. It is a categorical lie. On the contrary, here is the reality of producing this magazine for the AU Mission. The Mission could only provide less than 40% of the full budget of total production cost. The only way such a world-class publication could be produced was for AMIP News to accept that base payment and try to find sponsors and advertisers. Due to a weak African Union brand, one that Ambassador Chihombori-Quao is working to strengthen in the Americas, and an appetite for a free ride, advertisers did not commit their advertising dollars to the magazine as they should and the publishers have operated with a deficit each time and literally done the impossible to make each edition a reality.

For all intents and purposes, AMIP, Inc. is 501 c 3 non-profit organization. Contrary to what Pan African Visions suggested so recklessly, the publishing of Invest in Africa is a not-for-profit venture. Print and digital copies are not retailed; they are offered to a global audience for free because of the joint commitment to inform and educate.

The payments (checks) that AMIP News struggles to collect at the AU Mission periodically due to unnecessary bureaucratic practices do not sustain the productions. It is shameful that a group calling itself Pan African Visions will seek to discredit another organization called Africa Media-Image Project.

IV. Chairman Faki’s Communique

AMIP News references AU Chairman Faki’s October 15, 2019, communiqué which clearly states the reasons for which for Ambassador Chihombori-Quao was terminated. It is crystal clear and gives no basis for Pan African Visions, Ed Duche, and AU staff in Washington and Addis Ababa to malign Her Excellency Arikana Chihombori-Quao and AMIP News in the process. Her appointment termination is certainly not an excuse for any group or individual(s) to put copies of the ambassador’s driver’s license and state ID on the internet – that is shameful and could only be made possible by those who worked closely with her.

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Political appointees at the African Union, including Dr. Chihombori, are appointed at the discretion of the appointing authority. The duration of such political appointments is also determined at the discretion of that appointing authority.

Dr. Chihombori received a letter on 7 October 2019 bringing her tour of duty to an end, in line with the terms and conditions governing her contract of appointment, after serving three years as Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States of America, and appreciating her contribution to the Union during her tenure. This is normal diplomatic practice for political appointees everywhere.

Dr Chihombori has never been sanctioned by the Commission on any public pronouncements she has made during her three-year tenure and nor has the Commission ever thought the need to do so.

Chairman Moussa Mahamat Faki

CONCLUSION

AMIP News applauds Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao for her initiative in commissioning Invest in Africa magazine in the Americas. Our organization looks forward to our continued collaboration to inform our global audiences and advocate for Africa.

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