Mr Akintola Williams, Nigeria’s first indigenous chartered accountant, died on September 11, 2023, aged 104.
Renowned as the doyen of the Nigerian accounting profession, the late Williams distinguished himself with high standard of professionalism in both financial and business fields. He was also known as an arts enthusiast and enjoyed classical music.
The late Williams founded the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa, Akintola Williams & Co., now Deloitte & Touche, in 1952. It became one of the largest and most successful accounting firms in Nigeria, employing over 600 accountants.
He was born in Lagos on August 9, 1919, and attended Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School, Lagos. Alongside his younger brother, the late legal luminary, Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams, Akintola also attended Baptist Academy, Lagos, in 1927.
Following the completion of his secondary school education at CMS Grammar School in 1938, Akintola Williams went on to attend Yaba Higher College on a United African Company (UAC) scholarship from 1939 to 1941, where he attained a Diploma in Commerce.
He then proceeded to the University of London in 1944 to study Banking and Finance and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1946.
Three years after and at the age of 30, Williams passed the final examinations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. He was admitted into the membership of the Institute early in 1950.
He started his professional career with the Colonial Office in London and was posted to Nigeria same year as Inspector of Taxes. After working for two years, Williams ventured into private practice and in May 1952, established the Akintola Williams & Co.
A pioneer and pacesetter, he was the first president of the Association of Accountants in Nigeria in 1960 and the first president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
He was also a member and former chairman of the Federal Income Tax Appeal Commissioners (1958–68); member of the Coker Commission of Inquiry into the Statutory Corporations of the former Western Region of Nigeria (1962); member of the board of trustees of the Commonwealth Foundation (1966 –1975); and former chairman of the Lagos State government revenue collection Panel.
Williams was also a founding member of the Metropolitan Club, chairman, Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON), founding chairman, African Cancer Centre (ACC), founding member, Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCE), member, OGS Board of Trustees, founding chairman, International Lions Club District 404, member, Ikoyi Club and former Trustee for Nigeria on the Commonwealth Foundation.
Honoured both in Nigeria and abroad in appreciation of his hard work, development of accountancy and contributions to the economic growth of Nigeria, Williams was conferred with the national honour of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 1982 and Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 2001.
In April 1997, he was appointed as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to the accounting profession and for promotion of arts, culture and music through the Musical Society of Nigeria.
Williams was married to Mrs Efuntiloye Mabel Williams (nee Coker), who died in 2009 at the age of 88.
On May 8, 2011, the Nigeria-Britain Association presented awards to Williams, alongside John Kufuor, ex-President of Ghana, for their contributions to democracy and development.
During his centenary birthday, the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON), which is partly his brain-child, pulled out all the stops and devoted a weekend of celebrations to honour him.
He played pioneering and pacesetting roles in the formation of many institutions in Nigeria, including the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Before his death, Pa Williams was the only surviving signatory to the original Memorandum and Articles of Association of NSE when it was founded on September 15, 1960.
President Bola Tinubu described him as a man “who lived an admirable life of charity with an impactful influence on future generations.” Tinubu added that “Oloye Williams epitomised integrity, resilience and resourcefulness.”
We join other Nigerians to mourn the death of this distinguished citizen, while commiserating with his family and praying God to give them the fortitude to bear the loss.
Indeed, Akintola Williams will surely be missed for his priceless contributions and over seven decades of service in the fields of accounting and business. He left profound legacies and indelible footprints and lived a fulfilled and impactful life. And he scored many firsts in establishing many institutions that have shaped the African economy over his lifetime.
May his soul rest in peace.