ABUJA, Nigeria, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Citizens and trade unions criticized the Nigerian government for discontinuing a fuel price subsidy -- resulting in gas prices more than doubling in many areas.
Many people say they fear the subsidy removal may mean the price of other goods will rise as well, and the main unions have called for a strike, the BBC reported Monday.
Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer but it must import refined gasoline because of years of mismanagement and corruption, observers said. Analysts have said most Nigerians consider inexpensive fuel is the lone benefit they receive from the nation's oil wealth.
Prices have increased from 40 cents per liter of gasoline to at least 86 cents at gas stations.
For years, the International Monetary Fund has urged Nigeria's government to remove the subsidy, estimating it costs $8 billion annually.
The government finance team urged people not to panic or hoard fuel.
"Consumers are assured of adequate supply of quality products at prices that are competitive and non-exploitative," the team said in a statement.
Nigeria's two main labor unions -- the Trades Union Congress and Nigerian Labor Congress -- condemned the removal.
"We alert the populace to begin immediate mobilization toward ... the commencement of strikes, street demonstrations and mass protests across the country," the unions said in a statement. "This promises to be a long-drawn battle; we know it is beginning but we do not know its end or when it will end."
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