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David Umahi: Meet Nigeria’s new Minister of Works

David Nweze Umahi, born on 25 July 1964, is a prominent Nigerian politician who currently serves as the Minister of Works in Nigeria.

David Nweze Umahi, born on 25 July 1964, is a prominent Nigerian politician who currently serves as the Minister of Works in Nigeria. Appointed by President Bola Tinubu on 16 August 2023, Umahi’s career in politics has been notable with stints as Senator for Ebonyi South Senatorial District and as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State.

Born in Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area, Umahi is a respected figure in his community. After completing secondary education at Ishiagu High School and Government Secondary School in Afikpo, he attended Enugu State University of Science and Technology, where he earned a BSc in Civil Engineering in 1987. He co-founded Norman Engineering and Construction Nig. Limited in 1990, serving as General Manager until 1993, before holding chairmanships and CEO roles at Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd., Focus Investment Nig. Ltd., and Osborn La Palm Royal Resort Ltd. until 2011.

Umahi’s entry into public service began in 2007, as acting chairman of the Ebonyi State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He became the state chairman in 2009, serving until 2011. During this time, he also chaired the governing board of the Federal Medical Centre in Asaba for a year.

In 2011, he became Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, running with Governor Martin Elechi. Despite a tumultuous term in which Elechi supported Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, as his successor instead of Umahi, Umahi managed to defeat Chukwu in the primaries. His subsequent election as Governor in 2015 faced controversy, with allegations of irregularities, but was upheld by the Governorship Election Tribunal. Umahi was re-elected as Governor in 2019 and won the APC Ebonyi South Senatorial district elections in 2022.

Umahi made headlines when he declared his intention to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) on 11 November 2020, officially defecting on 17 November. He cited the PDP’s unfairness to the Southeast Geopolitical Zone and the party being hijacked as reasons for his defection, and President Muhammadu Buhari praised his principled stand. Umahi declared his intention to run for President in the 2023 general elections, contradicting his earlier claim that he would quit politics after his tenure as governor.

On 8 March 2022, Umahi and his deputy were sacked by the Federal High Court in Abuja for defecting to the APC, with the ruling stating that their votes belonged to the PDP. However, the Court of Appeal in Enugu later affirmed Umahi as Governor, deeming his defection immoral but not unconstitutional.

Controversy surrounding Umahi’s tenure as deputy governor and governor was reported in 2021, with allegations of transferring over ₦3.6 billion in government money to his company, Brass Engineering & Construction Nigeria Limited. Umahi threatened and later sued the reporting newspaper, Peoples Gazette, for defamation.