For security reasons, the government has refused to provide official identities of the criminals who kidnapped two Canadian volunteers last week.
We all understand this to be coming from a good place but pictures of the criminals are all over social media and as if that’s not bad enough, there’s one where the SWAT Team of the National Security Council posed with the kidnappers. Yeah, no kidding.
Okay, it was not a friendly pose or anything but the point is why did security operatives think this is a good idea in the first place? Take a picture of them and plaster it all over the place but you should not be in it with them. Who will pose with them next? The IGP?
Well, social media being the unpredictable cesspool it is, the photo has taken a life of its own. Some elements of the opposition found a way to manipulate this photo and created a narrative that the dude in red with the Canadian flag embossed in front is a member of the Delta Forces and by extension NPP.
Oh yeah, you heard right.
Do you see the pictures taken with the criminals is being circulated as evidence that the Kotoko supporter is now a member of Delta Forces?
The National Security Council, the police CID, BNI and all the security agencies who worked tirelessly on this have done a good (heck, great) job but this one photo and the opportunity it presented to political propagandists, is attempting to make nothing of that tremendous work.
Politicians are known for two core mistakes.
The first is to assume that they can fix everything. The narrative that came from the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election is something I know haunts the NPP. The party is a very proud one especially when public perception is less forgiving of their actions than the actions of their opponents and in an attempt to fix that disaster of a by-election, they are seeking to project the National Security SWAT Team as the heroes of the day. Fair enough.
What, you think I am just making this up?
The Information Minister during his Press Conference yesterday gave us a roll of those who played key roles in the capture of our celebrity kidnappers and guess who was not left off the list – DSP Azugu (you should know him by now or just google him).
It is okay to want to normalize the SWAT Team. They are obviously very useful (brutal beatings aside) but while doing that, don’t provide tools for propaganda. If the goal was to just commend them for good work done, the issue of the photo on social media would not have come in. They should not be used as props to project a certain image of the national security framework. The government should perhaps, put in place a long term strategy including a more coordinated communication structure for the National Security.
If they have to be projected, do it the American way. Get the movie and the entire media industry to find creative ways to project the strength of our security. Social media is highly unpredictable but every person there enjoys a good story. Let’s give them that instead of a knee-jerk photo of muscular men posing with kidnappers.