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Nigeria’s inflation rate hits 33.2% as food prices soar

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Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 33.20 percent in Mach 2024 — up from 31.70 percent in February.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) disclosed this in its consumer price index (CPI) report, which measures the rate of change in prices of goods and services, on Monday.

According to the bureau, food inflation also surged to 40.01 percent in the month under review.

NBS said the March headline inflation rate showed an increase of “1.50% points when compared to the February 2024 headline inflation rate”.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.16% points higher compared to the rate recorded in March 2023, which was 22.04%,” he said.

“This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in the month of March 2024 when compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e., March 2023).

“Furthermore, on a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in March 2024 was 3.02%, which was 0.10% lower than the rate recorded in February 2024 (3.12%).

“This means that in the month of March 2024, the rate of increase in the average price level is less than
the rate of increase in the average price level in February 2024.”

FOOD PRICES IS MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO INFLATION RATE

The NBS report further showed that the food inflation rate in March 2024 was 40.01 percent on a year-on-year basis – an increase of 15.56 percent points higher compared to the 24.45 percent rate recorded in March 2023.

NBS said the rise in food inflation on a year-on-year basis was caused by an increase in prices of garri, millet, bread and cereal, yam, dried fish, meat, and fruits.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Food inflation rate in March 2024 was 3.62% which shows a 0.17% decrease compared to the rate recorded in February 2024 (3.79%),” the bureau said.

“The fall in food inflation on a month-on-month basis was caused by a fall in the rate of increase
in the average prices of Guinea corn flour, Plantain Flour, etc (under Bread and Cereals
class), Yam, Irish Potatoe, Coco Yam (under Potatoes, Yam & Other Tubers class), Titus
fish, Mudfish Dried (under Fish class), Lipton, Bournvita, Ovaltine (under Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa class).

“The average annual rate of Food inflation for the twelve months ending March 2024 over
the previous twelve-month average was 31.40%, which was 8.69% points increase from
the average annual rate of change recorded in March 2023 (22.72%).”

The report also said Kogi, Kwara, and Akwa Ibom states spent more on food in March.

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Naira strengthens against dollar at parallel, official markets

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The naira appreciated further to N1,490 per dollar at the parallel section of the foreign exchange (FX) market on Monday.

The FX rate is a 1.34 percent increase from the N1,510/$ recorded on May 17.

Currency traders in Lagos, also known as bureau de change (BDCs) operators, quoted the buying rate of the greenback at N1,450 and the selling price at N1,490 — leaving a profit margin of N40.

At the official section of the FX market, the local currency appreciated by 1.93 percent to N1,468.99/$ on Monday — from N1,497.33/$ traded on May 17.

Also, the naira depreciated as low as N1,550/$ during intra-day trading and appreciated as high as N1,400/$.

On May 20, Agora Policy, an Abuja-based think tank, said Nigeria needs a temporary dollar liquidity bridge or FX inflows for the orthodox reforms of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take effect.

Advising the financial regulator, the think tank said eurobond issuance, assets sale, and engaging multilateral agencies, could boost dollar inflows into the country.

Over the medium term, Agora Policy said Nigeria must prioritise restoring organic dollar flows from oil exports by clearing the backlog of encumbrances.

Furthermore, the organisation said monetary policy must strike a balance between exchange rate stability — which is vital for near-term inflation — and non-mineral export competitiveness in a small open economy like Nigeria.

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Oil sells above $80 per barrel amid Iran’s helicopter crash, renewed tensions

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Oil prices steadied on Monday as renewed geopolitical risks in Russia and the Middle East came into sharp focus following a series of weekend attacks.

Brent crude futures traded near $84 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) remained above $80.

The stabilization in oil prices comes after Ukraine intensified its drone attacks on Russian refineries over the weekend, targeting key infrastructure on Sunday.

Additionally, a China-bound oil tanker was struck by a missile launched by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea on Saturday, further escalating tensions in the region, according to Bloomberg.  

In a separate development, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, as reported by the semi-official Mehr news agency. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assured that there would be no disruption to the country’s affairs despite the loss of its top leaders. 

The missile attack on a China-bound oil tanker in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels shows the persistent volatility in the Middle East, which remains a crucial artery for global oil transportation.

Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy for ING Groep NV in Singapore, commented on the market’s response to these events, stating “The market has become increasingly numb to geopolitical developments, and the large amount of spare OPEC production is likely contributing to this. We may have to wait for further clarity from OPEC+ on its output policy to break out of the range.”

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Safety violation: Air Peace reacts to UK regulator’s claim, says NCAA approved electronic flight bag

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Air Peace, Nigeria’s flag carrier, has reacted to the allegation of ‘violating’ safety measures in the United Kingdom (UK).

The airline, in a statement on Monday, said its operations have been under intense scrutiny by the relevant authorities since its inaugural flight to London.

In a report titled ‘Ramp Inspection,’ and dated April 7, the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (UKCAA) raised concerns over Air Peace’s compliance with some safety regulations in the UK.

UK aviation authority said findings showed Air Peace was using electronic flight bag (EFB) functions without operational approval.

However, the airline described the report as false, adding that approval was obtained from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

“Our attention has been drawn to media reports alleging a safety breach by Air Peace in the United Kingdom, which contain a lot of falsehood aimed at creating fears and doubts in the minds of the flying public,” Air Peace said.

“From the commencement of our inaugural flight to London, our operations have been subjected to intense scrutiny by the relevant authorities, which we most welcome as we pride ourselves in our continued pursuit of operational excellence and unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our esteemed passengers.

“We can confirm that the UK Civil Aviation Authority wrote to Air Peace, after their statutory Ramp Inspection on April 7, 2024, to request clarification on our use of the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) and some other concerns. We provided the necessary information, and the matter was resolved without any issues.

“It is, therefore, wrong to say we do not have approval for our EFB. Air Peace received approval from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and all our Boeing 777 aircraft are certified to operate with EFBs.”

‘WE ENSURE ALL OUR B777 AIRCRAFT HAVE IPAD MOUNTS’

Responding to the claim that the B777 aircraft lacked iPad mounts and charging ports in the flight deck, Air Peace said this is incorrect.

“All B777 aircraft are equipped with charging ports in the cockpit, and we ensure that all our B777 aircraft have iPad mounts,” the airline said.

“Another issue raised by the UK CAA was the location of our cockpit library on the B777. The B777 designates two locations for storing manuals and books: one behind the captain and one under the jumpseat.

“During the inspection, the books were stored under the jumpseat, as it is commonly practised. We understand the inspector’s preference for the books to be placed behind the captain and have ensured this preference is accommodated for all operations going forward.

“There was also a concern about the captain’s choice of runway exit after landing. Instead of exiting at the middle runway exit, the captain, out of his professional discretion, opted to exit at the end of the runway.

“This may have delayed the arrival of another aircraft. We acknowledge this deviation and have addressed the matter with the captain to ensure adherence to preferred exit procedures in the future.

“Ramp Inspection is a normal procedure carried out by aviation authorities globally, and the UKCAA did the right thing by notifying the NCAA of the outcome of their inspection.

“However, we are shocked to see several media publications with exaggerated and sensationalised accounts of this matter that were closed with the authorities over a month ago.”

Air Peace said its safety record is second to none, adding that it complies with all established safety standards.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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