• Report: #1104509

Complaint Review: The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa

  • Submitted: Thu, December 05, 2013
  • Updated: Fri, March 28, 2014

  • Reported By: Philip — San Antonio Texas
The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa
1100 17th St NW, Suite 1000 Washington, Dist of Columbia USA

The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa Wrongful Termination Following Report of Irregularities Washington District of Columbia

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I worked for The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, Washington, DC from 2007 to 2010 and witnessed tremendous and mind-boggling irregularities during that period. Most staff members also complained bitterly about improprieties committed by Ms. Bernadette Paolo, President of the NGO, though I was the only one that eventually spoke out. While recovering from major surgery, I subsequently wrote an eight-page memo to the board in April 2010, complaining about these misconducts. My memo is detailed and supported by facts. My initial goal was to keep this document confidential and only share it with the board, but under present circumstances I have no choice but to make it public. It can be accessed at: http://www.philip-effiong.com/Report_to_Board and is also attached here.

After learning about my report to the board, Ms. Paolo, according to staff, announced that I would no longer be allowed back at the office and if I showed up would be forcefully removed by security. But why? I had not committed any offense and had performed excellently at my work. A month after I sent this memo to the board, I received a one page response from the Chairman of the Board, one Mr. Noah Samara, an Ethiopian. In his response he did not make a single reference to any of the allegations I raised and neither did he refute any of them. Instead, he terminated my appointment and copied the NGO's lawyers, Hogan Lovells (www.hoganlovells.com) on his email, all in an attempt to intimidate and silence me. It is clear, therefore, that the decision to get rid of me was premeditated, calculated and done with the clear intention of victimizing me because I blew the whistle on Ms. Paolo. In his letter, Mr. Samara claimed that financial difficulty was the main reason for getting rid of me. However, this could not be true for several reasons. The Africa Society claims that its primary goal is to educate Americans about Africa. Based on education, research and experience, and as a student and professor of African and African Diaspora literature and culture, I was the most qualified staff member to provide education on Africa. Even in a situation of financial difficulty, you do not get rid of your most qualified worker and the most efficient in the service that you claim to provide. Two other staff members were also terminated, but one, the Office Manager had already expressed a desire to resign. The second, who was hired mainly because his wife worked for Congressman Donald Payne (a personal friend of Ms. Paolo), should not have been hired in the first place. For his first project he plagiarized information from the Internet, which clearly shows his incompetence. I have a copy of this document and the website from which he plagiarized it. Ironically, these two staff members were later rehired for a period.

In addition, I was the only staff member with a wife and children. The victimization against me was therefore not just immoral and vindictive, it was vicious and cruel and deliberately designed to financially punish me, my three daughters and my wife. One would think that Mr. Samara, a father himself, would have been more sensitive to my situation. But his actions should not come as a surprise since Ms. Paolo often described him and another board member, Mr. Luddy Hayden of being her best allies in the board. These two lived up to their reputation when they played central roles in getting rid of me. Their actions were evidently carried out to cover up Ms. Paolo's decadence and very poor managerial skills.

One of the biggest disappointments in this saga is my betrayal from none other than renowned scholar, Professor Ali Mazrui. But of course just because a man writes good books and articles, delivers good speeches at conferences and makes nice documentaries doesn't automatically make him a man of integrity. Professor Mazrui was the first board member I intimated about mismanagement within The Africa Society while we attended a conference organized by TransAfrica Forum in Baltimore in 2009. He immediately cited Ms. Paolo's incompetence as the probable cause of the problems, especially as it had to do with an ill-advised partnership that the NGO entered into with Drew University in California, resulting in the loss of almost $30,000 of donor money. But after I made my report to the board, Professor Mazrui has since taken a different stand in which he has collaborated with other board members to cover up Ms. Paolo's fraudulence.

Among the serious issues that I raised in my memo against Ms. Paolo include: verbal abuse of staff, harassment and threats, misuse of funds (like the bogus check for "Technical Assistance and Evaluation" that she gave one of her cronies), preferential treatment of staff and failure to pay salaries. Through their actions, The Africa Society board members and president, Ms. Paolo show that they run the NGO like a private property where they can do whatever they like, including hire personal friends or favourites and get rid of those they don't like. Remember that they are tax exempt and receive funding. How can they not be accountable to anyone or come under any type of scrutiny? It is the height of dishonesty, if not outright theft for any organization to receive donor funds and to use such funds for anything other than what they purport to use the funds for.

Names of the board members of this NGO can be found at http://africasummit.org/about/board-of-directors. Following my reports, they have since deleted their photos from this webpage to conceal their identities. It is also important to take note of the sponsors that continue to fund this morally bankrupt organization. See them at: http://africasummit.org/about/sponsors.

It is going on four years since I made my complaint and I am yet to receive any detailed response from The Africa Society board. The board claims that it has carried out investigation and found no wrongdoing on the part Ms. Paolo. What type of investigation did it carry out? I, for instance, was never questioned and yet I made the complaint. Where is the documentation to show that any type of real investigation was carried out by the board? The Africa Society has tried to silence me by offering me money which I rejected. And, as mentioned earlier, they have also tried to intimidate me with their lawyers, Hogan Lovells, but that hasn't worked either. I am not intimidated by their lawyers or anyone else because I am armed with something that is unyielding: the TRUTH! Until The Africa Society addresses this issue in an objective and transparent manner, I will not stop exposing the organization's fraudulence.  In other words, whenever the board elects to treat me with dignity and respect, I will equally desist from making reports against the NGO.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/05/2013 03:03 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/The-Africa-Society-of-the-National-Summit-on-Africa/Washington-Dist-of-Columbia-20036/The-Africa-Society-of-the-National-Summit-on-Africa-Wrongful-Termination-Following-Report-1104509. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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