17 Aug 2016

How to Make Your Vote Count In 2016

Ghana goes to the polls this year. Many voters out there still don't know how to cast valid ballots. It is a fact that the number of rejected ballots in all elections [since 1992] often outweigh the combined votes of the smaller political parties. It is, therefore, up to the authorities and all concerned to give more and better education to voters and potential voters so as to enable them to choose better.
Image How to vote
How to vote


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The fundamental problems accounting for this huge number ranges from multiple thumb printing to poor folding of papers after thumbprinting. Some votes are not visible enough and disputes often arise at the polling stations because ballot paper appears virtually blank. These are all counted as wasted ballots and defeat the purpose of which such people even visited the polling station in the first place.

Having been a party polling station agent before, and having seen all these problems, I think more people still need to be educated on the voting process and how to cast a valid ballot, especially the first timers.

To avoid wasting your precious votes because they do not qualify to be counted valid, it will be good to observe the following:


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  • Vote Clearly: Make sure your thumb has enough ink on it to make your thumbprint visible on the ballot paper. Votes that are not clearly visible will be rejected because of disputes from party agents at the polling station. So make sure your vote is clearly visible on the paper.
  • Choose One Candidate Only: Thumbprint for only one candidate or party symbol on either ballot papers, parliamentary and presidential. Very often, most rejected ballots are because of some people putting their thumbprints on more than one candidate. Such votes will not be counted for your preferred candidate. To make your vote count, make sure your thumbprint goes on only one candidate or their party symbol.  Also, make sure the ink on your thumb does not mistakenly touch any other part of the paper after choosing your preferred candidate. It can make your ballot invalid.
  • Fold Papers Carefully: Fold the ballot papers well and carefully, making sure the ink doesn't go onto either of the other candidates you did not choose. After thumbprinting, it is advisable to clean your hand well before you fold the ballot paper. Then, fold the ballot paper vertically so each candidate’s head lays on his or her party symbol. This way, even if the ink mistakenly touches the other side of the paper, it will remain valid. Do not fold it horizontally. If you do this, you will be voting for more than one candidate and your vote will be an invalid one. If the paper is too long, you can fold it horizontally afterward but fold it vertically first.
  • Cast Your Ballot: Put your vote in the ballot box. Some people forget and leave their ballot papers in the voting booth. Others even send their ballot papers home. If you forget your ballot paper at the voting booth, the next person who does not agree with your choice may send it home or tear it. So make sure you place your vote in the ballot box through its vent.

Note:

1. Inspect your ballot paper and make sure it is stamped with only the official EC stamp. An unstamped or improperly stamped ballot paper will be rejected. Also, make sure there are no other ink marks on any part of the paper apart from the stamp of the EC.



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2. Make sure your little finger, which has been dipped in indelible ink, does not come into contact with the ballot paper. Also, make sure your thumb which was used to thumbprint on the ballot paper does not mistakenly touch any part of the paper again after making your choice.

3. Make sure you report any malfeasance observed either at the polling station during the voting process or afterward to the police and the returning officer if he or she is not the subject of suspicion.

What do you also make of the issue of rejected ballots in our electoral system?

    13 Aug 2016

    NHIS; A Challenge To Quality Healthcare Delivery

    The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is a form of National health insurance established by the Government of Ghana, with a goal to provide equitable access and financial coverage for basic health care services to Ghanaian citizens.[1]

    Foreigners were supposed to pay cash whenever they access healthcare services in Ghana because it was assumed such people could afford it. Besides, most of them never pay tax to the government.
    It was not until 2009 when the scheme was changed from its district-based mutual status to a nationwide status that foreigners began infiltrating its system. And it was also the time the problems of health insurance began to surface.


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    Some of the NHIS offices are packed with unqualified staff. Clients names are often wrongly spelt. Some clients names and pictures are even interchanged.
    National health insurance scheme

    Most of the workers are just criminals who employ any means they can to cheat the system. People's ages are either reduced or increased to qualify them to be registered as either being among the core poor clients or underage. This is mostly done on the blind side of registrants some of whom are mostly illiterate and can't give accurate ages or dates of birth. Although these members pay for registration and renewal, the monies enter into private pockets. Some district managers of the scheme even connive with workers under them to engage in these activities.


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    Foreigners are sometimes charged exorbitant fees before being allowed to register as Ghanaians. The money charged finds its way into the pockets of greedy NHIS staff, most of whom don't have any requisite qualification to occupy such offices.

    Imagine a Fulani family which goes to register and is charged an exorbitant amount of GHC 250 per head. The staff tells this family that it is a form of help they are being given because they are not Ghanaian citizens. This family, which may comprise of five members or more agree to pay the charged amount and are registered as Ghanaians. This staff has succeeded in making more than GHC 1000 instantly in connivance with other staff!

    The NHIS now dictates what medicines a client gets in a healthcare facility. There is a restricted list of medicines to prescribe for the various ailments, going out of which makes your claims of services rendered invalid for reimbursement. There is even a limited list of diagnoses to follow. Any prescriber who prescribes out of that list is doing a fruitless job for the health facility because such claims forms will not qualify for reimbursement. Some prescribers sometimes overestimate the diagnosis of some conditions to make the claims form valid.


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    Reimbursement is no longer done on a quarterly basis. It is now done at the whims and caprices of a certain manager who sits in the capital city of Ghana without any knowledge of what pertains in remote villages such as can be found in northern Ghana. There are times when certain hospitals and clinics run out of baseline drugs and have to partially halt operations until reimbursement is done.

    The district hospitals, which act as primary referral facilities, bear the brunt of the CHPS compounds and health centers. Some district hospitals have to always resort to loans from banks to buy basic consumables and baseline drugs just to keep afloat, awaiting reimbursement from Accra. There are currently some hospitals with more than a year's outstanding arrears to collect from the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), the responsible for running the NHIS.

    The national NHIA boss was heard on air saying they have enough money for reimbursement to all health facilities. He, however, said they had a technical problem which is making it difficult to reimburse claims. But, how technical could this problem be that it can't be resolved in a year?


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    And worse of it all, the targeted beneficiaries of health insurance are not deriving any benefits from it. They don't even know when their cards would expire. They only get to realize it when they are sick and come to the hospital. Others still believe so much in traditional medicine and superstition that they often delay at home and get to the hospital in a critical state. Most of these people often can't renew their cards instantly and use them. Even if they renew, it has to take a whole month for such cards to be active. They, therefore, have to always fork money out instantly to pay for all services rendered them.

    People who can afford to pay their bills in cash are those rather benefitting from the health insurance. They even renew it a month before it expires so they can be covered throughout the year. And they are those who patronize health facilities almost on a weekly basis. An abuse of the system you may say.

    How long is this going to continue? How long will the NHIS continue to cripple health facilities with debt? How long should healthcare facilities suffer in an effort to deliver appropriate care to clients because of NHIS?

    Benefits Of Online Shopping

    Most people don't want to shop online due to one or two reasons. Some people fear they will lose their money to scammers while others are confused as to how they can get the product they've bought online. If you're among any of these groups, then this article is for you.

    While it is true that some people have lost money to scammers online, it is also true that most of the local stores are now stocked with items bought online.

    Some people believe most of the online shops are populated with scammers who are doing all they can to swindle customers of their hard-earned cash. They will, therefore, prefer to buy from the local shop at an exorbitant price. They will rather allow their personal information to be stolen than their money.


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    Online shopping
    Many people don't have debit cards in Africa to engage in online shopping.
    Shops such as Amazon, Alibaba, AliExpress (an affiliate of Alibaba responsible for lightweight shopping) will never allow scammers on their sites. And the most interesting thing about these shops is that they will deliver at your specified address. There is a mode of tracking goods you have ordered. They will protect you from any vendor on their site who tries to cheat you. If you pay for the product and later change your mind, you can cancel the purchase and the money will be refunded back to your account.

    Other people also don't shop online because even if their goods arrive at the port or harbor, they will find it difficult to get them. Either they wouldn't be able to prove their identity for such items or they will not have money to pay for clearance. Some also say the cost of shipping such items, when added to the cost of the item, will make it more expensive than the one at the local store.

    On the contrary, most items bought online have a shipping cost far less than what you may be thinking. Some items even go with free shipping. This means you can buy an item and ask them to deliver it to your nearest postal address without you going out to do anything. The postmaster will call you when your items arrive on his desk. No fees are paid, depending on the kind of item. If the item you bought is a heavy one, you may be asked to pay something very small.

    Most of the items at the local store such as bracelets, earrings, clothing, footwear, mobile phones, computers, and so on are often shipped for free. No shipping charge is made on your account. Yet, the local store will add a shipping cost to it.

    From the time I mustered the courage to shop my first free item, I have always been an avid online shopper. I am aware of scammers and try as much as possible to stay off them by carefully analyzing and using the most popular online shopping portals such as Amazon and AliExpress. Ebay and Alibaba are also great shops with elaborate customer protection plans to prevent you from losing money to scammers.

    There are many advantages of shopping online. Apart from the convenience it gives, you have the freedom to compare prices from different online shops and get a better deal. You also have the freedom to buy items you otherwise wouldn't want people to see you buy in a traditional brick and mortar store, such as adult toys and weird ornaments. You also get to save time. The cheaper deals online also mean you will get to save money for other things. And the most interesting thing about it all is, you can start a small business through online shopping.

    To eliminate your fear of shopping online, just visit any of the popular sites and buy some of the free electronic software products available and see how it is to shop online. You can buy a free book or download free software, or even watch movie trailers all for free. All you need is a debit card (either Visa or MasterCard) and you are good to go.

    Would you try shopping online today? Link up and let's discuss.

    9 Aug 2016

    Who Will Fix The Accra Floods?

    The issue of floods in cities and towns is becoming an annual ritual whenever there is rain, no matter the intensity. The memories of last year's June 3 flood and fire disaster are still very fresh in our minds. But it seems the only lesson our leaders have learned from this gory incident is how to blame the populace and make them feel guilty while exonerating themselves.

    The authorities responsible for making sure this problem gets solved are always quick to push blame on citizens for being 'irresponsible' with the way they handle waste. They say we throw waste in drains and litter the streets. They say we are not patriotic. They say we will be those to suffer and die from the effects of floods and unsanitary environments. The care less if have a means of disposing of our waste responsibly.


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    Truth is, leaders who are supposed to fix this problem keep shifting the goalpost and the problem never gets fixed as a result. Citizens actually show bear responsibility by cleaning their homes and surroundings but have no proper waste disposal system. The waste so collected is then left to scatter back into clean spaces. De-silted drains are choked again because the silt is left at the edge of the drain. The drains are not even large to handle a large amount of water.

    Leaders are interested in taking tours around the city after a rainstorm and making wild promises about fixing the situation. Nothing concrete actually gets done about it, and the next time it happens they are quick to embark on another tour of the city without any shred of shame.

    Initially, waste bins were provided by a waste collection company (Zoomlion) to households to prevent people from dumping refuse in drains. This noble idea, however, became ineffective as the company placed profits over responsibility.  People paid for their waste to be collected on a monthly basis but over time, the lackadaisical attitude of the waste collection company created disinterest among patrons. Sometimes the waste overflows the bins and is left there for weeks. When they are called, all manner of excuses is given with a promise to come for it before dusk. They never show up. When the month is about ending, they begin to come around for it and remind you to pay your fees as soon as possible. After getting you to pay for a month's service, the situation replays itself.

    Hence, people are forced to dump waste in any available space they can find outside their homes, including waterways. The end result is the annual flooding that has plagued the capital city and other cities and towns for some years now.


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    The Way Forward

    It has been reported several times how our landfill sites are filling up every day with waste. I see this to be one of the reasons why people's garbage doesn't get collected. But is that the best way to treat waste in the 21st century? Examples abound of how people are making it big with waste in areas of energy. Yet, Ghana is seeing it as a curse! Yet, we are polluting the air and depleting the ozone layer further with our continuous incineration.

    We have leaders who only think about their generation and not the one after them. Recycling of waste is not in our national development plans. If we have forward-thinking leaders who have a will, Ghana could have augmented her current power shortages with power from waste. But no, they want to win elections at all cost and govern people through either fair or foul means. They care less what the needs of the people who voted for them are.

    We will, therefore, have to wallow in our waste until a leader one day decides to think straight and takes a bold decision to end flooding in our cities and towns. Yes, we have to fast and pray that God gives us such a leader one day by helping us to change our attitudes towards politicians and politics. Until we are able to vote using our heads and not our hearts, we will have to continue to die from diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and bilharzia due to our waste.

    Leave comments below.

    8 Aug 2016

    Breaking News: NDC To Launch 2016 Campaign Without Manifesto

    The governing National Democratic Congress says it will be launching its elections 2016 campaign next week without a manifesto.

    Addressing a news conference in Accra, the party’s Campaign team spokesperson, Joyce Bawah Mogtari said although the campaign will be launched on August 14, 2016, in the central region, the manifesto will be released at a later date, Joy News' Joseph Ackah-Blay reports.

    NDC Campaign Spokesperson Addressing A News Conference
    NDC Campaign Spokesperson Addressing A News Conference


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    She indicated that the theme for this year’s campaign will be “Changing lives, transforming Ghana.”

    The party is certain that President John Mahama will be re-elected in December.

    Mrs. Mogtari said President Mahama is “the best candidate for this year’s election.”

    Source: Myjoyonline.com