Rising energy costs – electricity, fuel, and cooking gas segments, – political tension and fiscal indiscipline have triggered fresh concern over fast-rising prices even as headline inflation rose marginally to 15.7 per cent in February, slightly higher than the January figure.
The latest inflation data were contained in the February consumer price index (CPI) released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), yesterday.
Economists, however, warn that the global energy market crisis suggest tougher days ahead, than what has been experienced in recent years, said the inflation data may have doctored to achieve a predetermined political objective.
The integrity question of the country’s inflation came to the fore last year, as prices nearly doubled every month while NBS continues to report “moderating” figures.
Speaking with The Guardian from Enugu, yesterday, Owoh questioned the figures, saying most prices have doubled or tripled in the past few months and accused NBS of reporting data that could not be related to market realities.
“I give you an example. Last month, I paid N1, 250 for a plate of eggs, bread and tea in the hotel I lodged in Enugu. Today (yesterday), I paid N2, 700 for the same meal in the same hotel restaurant. The price of natural honey in my village has tripled between early last year and today.
Owoh, an economist who had consulted for the World Bank and other international organisations, said only a politically-independent team of experts could ascertain the true rate of inflation in the country as NBS has been hijacked by the political class and its survey is highly manipulated to deceive Nigerians.
Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Muda Yusuf, added that Nigeria needs to quickly improve its refining capacity.
Yusuf said: “What needs to be done now from the point of view of the energy costs is for us to quickly move to improve our domestic refining capacity of petroleum products so that our vulnerability to shocks of crude oil prices will reduce.”
The inflation rate, in the past years, has been driven by food inflation, with the differential between core and food segments heading to 10 percentage points sometime last year.
Also speaking, the Vice President, Mining at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr. Johnson Anne, said Nigerians need to adjust their lifestyles in line with reality.
Vice President, Highcap Securities, David Adonri said the remote cause of the inflation is traceable to the age-long import dependence of the economy.
He said: “Any external shock that depresses the value of the Naira is reflected immediately in the rise of domestic inflation. Already existing external shocks connected to rising inflation in industrialized economies and the rise in their interest rate is capable of battering the Nigerian economy in two ways.