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Nigeria's vast oil revenues will go some way towards boosting the country's prowess in science and technology.

In June the government approved plans for a US$5 billion endowment fund for science that will be supplemented by donors and the private sector (see Nigerian science fund 'should inspire Muslim world').

This Nature editorial welcomes president Olusegun Obasanjo's plans for a Nigerian version of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to distribute the funds.

The NSF was designed to protect the cash designated for science from being used as a national slush fund — a temptation that could face politicians in Nigeria.

As the editorial notes, the proposed structure of the agency will indicate whether its founders are committed to making it as independent as the NSF.

The editorial calls the plan "far-sighted", and says a politically independent science agency with an endowment to ensure long-term viability is an "eminently sensible use of windfall oil revenues".

It concludes that if it all comes to fruition, Obasanjo will be leaving a "spectacular legacy" for science not just in Nigeria, but also for the continent.

Link to full editorial in Nature