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Nigerian subsidy fuel move unpopular

ABUJA, Nigeria, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- It's unlikely the government of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will remain in force following a decision to end a fuel subsidy, a labor leader said.

Nigeria spent about 25 percent of its annual budget for fiscal 2012 to keep petroleum products cheap enough for the country's poor. Dimieari Von Kemedi, a private consultant for the country's president, said the government spends more on fuel subsidies than agricultural assistance and construction combined, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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The government last weekend announced it put an end to a fuel subsidy in place for the past 38 years, causing gasoline prices to double by Monday.

Labor unions in the country called for national strikes and mass protests in retaliation for the move on subsidies.

Emmanuel Ugboaja, a leader of the umbrella Labor Congress, said millions of people depend on fuel subsidies to get around in the West African country.

"If this government remains in power, it will be one of the eight wonders of the world," he was quoted as saying.

Previous governments were met by widespread and sometimes violent protests following similar efforts to end the fuel subsidy. The security situation in Nigeria is already tense following a series of attacks claimed by Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

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