The country’s inflation hit a four-year peak in February as food prices jumped more than 20 percent, heaping financial pressure on households already faced with a shrinking labour market and a stagnant economy at a time of mounting insecurity. Inflation, in double digits since 2016, reached 17.33 percent, driven by the impact of a coronavirus epidemic that has also induced a drop in the price of oil, Nigeria’s main export, and weakened the naira currency. Tuesday’s inflation reading was the highest since the 17.78 percent touched in February 2017. The economy was in a slump then and is teetering on the brink of recession now, having expanded just 0.11 percent in the fourth quarter. Food prices, which make up the bulk of the inflation basket, rose 21.79 percent in February, a jump of 1.22 percentage point in January, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. In a country plagued by insecurity following a wave of kidnappings of schoolchildren in its increasingly lawless north, there are concerns that the “stagflation” combination of rising unemployment and prices and low growth could trigger significant social unrest.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA