The History of Atamunu Street in Calabar —by Richard Duke


Richard Duke|12 March 2017 It is interesting to know that Atamunu Street is named after a Calabar based Ghanaian politician known as Prince Kwamina Ata-Amuno. The next question would be to ask ‘who was Kwamina Ata-Amuno?’, ‘what was so special about him?’.  Well, in 1922 when the British colonialists introduced the Clifford Constitution, it created 4 new electoral seats for the Legislative Council in Nigeria. This was the very first time in Nigeria when an election would be taking place. Three seats were reserved for Lagos and one seat was reserved for Calabar. The criteria for standing for election were that the person should be either Nigerian or British men, at least 21 years old who had lived in their municipal area for at least 12 months with an annual income of at least £100. While around 4,000 people registered to vote in Lagos , 453 people registered in Calabar. The elections took place in 1923 and four candidates ran for the single seat in Calabar. The four contestants ran as independent candidates and they were:
•  Prince Kwamina Ata-Amuno (70 votes)
• A.Archibong (69 Votes)
• C.W.Clinton (51 Votes)
• Essien Essien Offiong (16 votes) The elections were free and fair. Despite Prince Ata-Amuno winning by only one vote there was no petition or re-counting of votes. There was around 40% electoral turnout as more than half of the registered voters did not turn up to vote. Prince Ata-Amuno belonged to a Socio-Political group called the Calabar Improvement League. Another group, the Calabar Rate Payers Association sponsored C.W.Clinton. Although he (C.W.Clinton) lost in 1923, he contested again and won the election to later represent Calabar for two terms from 1928 to 1938. In 1938 the Calabar Improvement League were able to sponsor another independent candidate, Reverend O.Effiong to the Legislative Council office. The 3 other members that were elected to represent Lagos were Egerton Shyngle, Eric Moore and Crispin Adeniyi-Jones (they were all political colleagues of Herbert Macualey who was banned from contesting this election). If you might have noticed, they all do have popular streets in Lagos named after them too. The next time you walk down Atamunu Street in Calabar, don’t forget that it was named after a passionate politician from Ghana who put Calabar on the electoral map history of Nigeria. Trivia:
The 4 elected officials supported Female enfranchisement which led to the Aba Women’s riot of 1929. Crispin Adeniyi-Jones actually came from Sierra Leone. Clifford successfully introduced Legislative reforms in Gold Coast (Ghana) in 1916 and replaced Lord Luggard as the Governor General of Nigeria (after Lord Luggard was forced to resign) Source:
•Nigeria and Elective Representation 1923-1947 by Tekena.N.Tamuno (1996)
•Colonial Reports for Nigeria -1923
•Interview with Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey-Former Chairman, Calabar Municipal Local Government Council (1989) conducted by Richard Duke Richard Duke
Writes from the United Kingdom