As African central bank governors go, few have a higher profile than Lamido Sanusi – and few have courted more controversy. Appointed in the midst of a debt crisis in 2009, his bold moves to fix Nigeria’s crisis-stricken banks toppled the chief executives of eight local lenders, and he’s not one to tiptoe around the political elite either.
After years of persistently high inflation, you would think taming the beast would be cause for celebration.
Not in Nigeria – or in the central bank, at any rate. Despite inflation falling to a 5-year low of 8.6 per cent year-on-year in March, the news has simply exacerbated the debate over what to do about interest rates.
Nigeria’s economy grew 6.5 per cent in the third quarter, slightly up from 6.4 per cent in the previous period.
Source: central bank
The March figure for inflation in Nigeria has come in at 12.1 per cent – a rise from February’s 11.9 per cent.
And while the figure announced on Wednesday was ahead of expectations, it’s not too bad: the rolling 12-month average is 10.9 per cent, down a little from 11.0 per cent the month before. But, the forecast for the rest of the year isn’t too good.
Falling inflation wasn’t enough to twist policy makers’ arms in Nigeria on Tuesday. The central bank’s monetary policy committee left its policy rate at 12 per cent for a third consecutive time.
Although Monday’s inflation figure of 11.9 per cent year on year in February surprised the market, it is still above the central bank target of 10 per cent.