By Chijioke Ohuocha
LAGOS, Feb 15 – Annual inflation in Nigeria fell to 11.37 percent in January, down from the seven-month high it reached in December, data showed on Friday, a day before a presidential election in which the cost of living has been an issue.
The price index peaked at 18.7 percent in January last year and has been in double digits for three years. Nigeria’s central bank has kept interest rates high to battle inflation, which has been rising after the country’s worst recession in a quarter of a century in 2016.
Rejuvenating the economy is a key campaign issue for President Muhammadu Buhari, who hopes his record can secure him a second four-year term in office. His main opponent, Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, has touted pro-business policies, including floating Nigeria’s currency, the naira .
In November, the head of the central bank, Governor Godwin Emefiele, said he expected the central bank would keep monetary policy tight in 2019. He said the short-term outlook for the economy was good and that the country was open for foreign investors.
Nigeria’s economy grew in 2018 at its fastest pace since the recession.
A separate food price index showed inflation at 13.51 percent in January, compared with 13.56 percent in December, the National Bureau of Statistics said.