By Omotilewa Quadri
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday said Nigeria’s economic growth slowed in the first quarter of 2018 for the first time since the country pulled out of recession last year.
According to NBS, the economy grew by 1.95 percent in the first quarter lifted by the oil sector. That was a slight dip from 2.11 percent year-on-year in the final quarter of 2017. The economy shrank by 0.91 percent in the first quarter of 2017.
Growth rates have been bouncing back since the third quarter of 2016, when the recession, its first in 25 years, bottomed out.
Nigeria exited that contraction last year largely due to higher oil prices, with the country relying on crude sales for around two-thirds of government revenue.
The National Assembly last week passed a record N9.12 trillion ($29.8 billion) budget for 2018 aimed at boosting growth in West Africa’s biggest economy nine months before the presidential election.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been trying to diversify the economy away from oil by boosting the non-oil sector but those efforts are struggling.
The oil sector grew by 14.77 percent in the period, higher than the non-oil sector which rose 0.76 percent between January to March, the NBS said. Oil production stood at 2 million barrels per day in the quarter, up from 1.95 million in the previous quarter.
The GDP data comes a day before the Central Bank of Nigeria announces its decision on interest rates, with recent economic data showing that there’s scope for a rate cut as inflation dropped to a more than two year low in April of 12.48 percent.
The apex bank has kept its rate at 14 percent since July 2016 to support the naira and curb inflation.
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