UPDATE 1-Nigerian inflation hits 4-year high in February
By Chijioke Ohuocha
ABUJA, March 16 (Reuters) - Nigeria's annual inflation rate rose to a four-year high of 17.33% in February after its 18th straight monthly increase, the statistics office said on Tuesday.
Inflation, which has been in double digits since 2016, has accelerated with the COVID-19 pandemic, which induced a slump in the price of oil - Nigeria's main export - that slashed state revenue and weakened the naira currency.
The country exited its second recession since 2016 in the fourth quarter.
Food prices, which make up the bulk of the inflation basket, rose 21.79% in February, a 1.22 percentage point increase on January, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
The government is exploring ways to reduce transportation costs, which it says are contributing to a jump in food costs.nL8N2KU83V
President Muhammadu Buhari has made investment in rail and road a main focus of his administration, but the falls in public revenue have checked his ambitions.
The International Monetary Fund has urged Nigeria to phase out central bank financing of the deficit as a means of reducing inflation. nL8N2KM6XY
(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Andrew Heavens and John Stonestreet)