Edward Mensah, PhD, commends the Mandela Institute
The development of the Nelson Mandela Institute is the greatest idea that has come out of Africa since the start of the decolonization process. Without a strong scientific and technological infrastructure, a market based economy and good governance, there will be no basis for sustainable economic growth. But the seeds of failure are already being sowed, unfortunately, by the request by the Nigerian government to locate one of the centers in Abuja. For an educational institution to really excel it needs to have a strong linkage to a pool of first class professors, graduate students, and industry. If the American model of graduate education is to be copied we must note that, in this country, smart and young graduate students in science, engineering, and mathematics constitute the major path for the development and propagation of new and innovative ideas. These are the people who form the link between the research professors and industry. In Nigeria you are more likely to find them in Lagos or Ibadan universities, already existing centers of excellence by African standards. Abuja, I am sorry to say, is a wrong place for this great idea.
I must disclose that I am a former student of Ibadan university. However, my reason for suggesting I badan is to go back to the glory days when this great institution, that produced Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and also great physicists and mathematicians, will be given the chance to play a leading role in the creation of the knowledge base for Africa's economic development. It is located close to Lagos, which is a considerable asset since Lagos is the commercial capital of Nigeria. And you have a great international agricultural research institute ( IITA) nearby. It is a center of excellence for tropical agricultural research. And the college of Medicine at Ibadan is ( used to be) a center of excellence. These complementary institutions will increase the research productivity of the new institute when cited in Ibadan. Please do not blow this great idea by creating a brand new center in God knows where.