The youths of Lagos State and other residents in the state have welcomed a new dawn in the fight against drugs and other substances within the state with the launch of an initiative to rescue, rehabilitate and empower disadvantaged youths and adults within the state; Operation Better Life.
This follows a recent spike in reports from local and international bodies such as the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), among others, showing the increase in the use of illicit drugs among adults and youths and its effects on the health and development of the nation.
“Operation Better Life” is a programme of Freedom Foundation that seeks to provide free end-to-end integrated prevention, rescue, reform, rehabilitation, empowerment and re-integration services for underserved youths as well as drug and alcohol dependent persons in Nigeria and across the globe, through its three unique facilities; Community Centres (Ile Alafia), Rehabilitation Centres (Ile Ayo) and the Skill Acquisition Centres (Ile Ireti).
Operation Better Life initiative was launched on Sunday with the commissioning of its first Ile Ayo facility in Alausa, Ikeja, by the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu alongside the Chairman of Freedom Foundation’s Board of Trustees and visioner of the initiative, Dr. Tony Rapu.
Dr. Tony Rapu describes the Operation Better Life initiative as a dream come true for many Lagos residents and underserved youths, some of which are hooked on drugs, a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. He also explained what birthed the initiative and its goal:
“The governor seemed to understand the drug problem we are facing and I said what can we do? I said, we need the strength of government. Why don’t we use the strength of government to bring penetration into the neighbourhood where these young men and young women are located. And that was how we came up with Operation Better Life Initiative. It is a programme we want to take across the country and we want to use Lagos State as the initial template.” he said.
In his speech, the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu commended the passion of Dr. Tony Rapu and the Foundation over the years to help many disadvantaged persons in the country and described how the Doctor’s passion had influenced the desire of the Lagos State government to partner with Freedom Foundation to carry out similar projects within the state.
The governor also reiterated his commitment to scale up the Operation Better Life project within the state.
“…I believe that when we all work collaboratively. We will create a future that we believe is needed. I want to say that I am fully plugged to the project and I am committed to ensure that we quickly scale up and get all of these our citizens off the wrong map and put them on the right map.” he said.
The event pulled together distinguished guests comprising officials of the Lagos State government and individuals from the private sector. Guest of honour, Bola Adeshola, Chairman of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) and Chairman of the Board, Ecobank Nigeria, commended the Operation Better Life initiative and other programmes by Freedom Foundation in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Adeshola also expressed her commitment and LSETF to partner with the initiative to help beneficiaries of the programme access jobs after completing the programme.
A consultant with Freedom Foundation, Dr. Osasuyi Dirisu emphasised the need to holistically approach drug use and its effects on the Nigerian society through the three approaches of Operation Better Life, describing the initiative as a new dawn in Lagos State.
In the same vein, a director with the Foundation, Dr. Adeola Majiyagbe, described the initiative as a life-changer whilst calling for support from well-meaning Nigerians for its successful operation.
Freedom Foundation is a non-profit organization, committed to addressing the ever-mounting and staggering challenges in our society by empowering individuals who are plagued with various categories of social and economic challenges through Rehabilitation, Education and Empowerment.
This content has been published for free as part of BellaNaija.com‘s commitment to youth, education, healthcare and community development as part of our corporate social responsibility programme