In the rich tapestry of Nigeria’s financial narrative, a singular name shines with a storied career spanning several decades, his legacy transcends the realm of accounting, weaving into the very fabric of vital financial institutions. brilliantly – Akintola Williams. Fondly hailed as the “Doyen of Accounting,” etched his name as Nigeria’s pioneer Chartered Accountant, blazing a trail by founding one of the nation’s earliest accounting firms.
With a storied career spanning several decades, his legacy transcends the realm of accounting, weaving into the very fabric of vital financial institutions.
Come with us as we embark on a journey to explore the extraordinary life and enduring impact of this iconic luminary who passed on today Monday, September 11, 2023, aged 104 years.
Early Life and Education
Akintola Williams, OFR, CBE, a revered figure in Nigerian accounting, was born in 1919 and passed away on September 11, 2023.
Hailing from a distinguished lineage, his grandfather was the esteemed Z. A. Williams, a prominent merchant prince from Abeokuta.
His father, Thomas Ekundayo Williams, was initially a clerk in the colonial service but later ventured into establishing a legal practice in Lagos.
Akintola’s educational journey commenced in the 1930s at Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School in Lagos, followed by studies at the renowned CMS Grammar School.
He pursued higher education at Yaba Higher College, supported by a United Africa Company (UAC) scholarship, earning a commerce diploma.
In 1944, he embarked on further studies in London at the University of London, specializing in Banking and Finance.
He graduated in 1946 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and continued his academic pursuits, becoming a chartered accountant in England in 1949.
Accounting Career: Pioneering Indigenous Excellence
Returning to Nigeria in 1950, Akintola Williams embarked on an illustrious career. He initially worked as an assessment officer with the Inland Revenue until March 1952.
It was during this period that he took a momentous step, leaving the civil service to establish Akintola Williams & Co. in Lagos, marking the birth of the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa.
At the time, Nigeria’s accounting landscape was dominated by foreign firms. Undeterred, Williams collaborated with local companies and provided invaluable services to state-owned corporations.
The firm’s growth was marked by the appointment of its first partner, Charles S. Sankey, in 1957.
Expansion under the leadership of Njoh Litumbe included branch offices in Port Harcourt and Enugu and overseas branches in Cameroons, Côte d’Ivoire, Swaziland, and affiliations in Ghana, Egypt, and Kenya.
The passage of the Companies Act of 1968 and the drive to promote indigenous ownership in the early 1970s boosted demand for Akintola Williams & Co.’s services.
It spun off AW Consultant Ltd. and expanded through acquisitions. Beyond accounting, Williams held significant roles in various companies until his retirement in 1983.
Between 1999 and 2004, Akintola Williams & Co. merged with two esteemed firms, forming Akintola Williams Deloitte, solidifying its status as Nigeria’s largest professional services firm.
Public Roles and Honors: A Legacy of Contribution
Akintola Williams’ influence extended beyond accounting. He played a key role in the establishment of the Association of Accountants in Nigeria, was the first President, and contributed to founding the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
He held public sector positions, including Chairman of the Federal Income Tax Appeal Commissioners and was involved in significant inquiries and panels.
He received accolades, including the O.F.R. (Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic) from the Nigerian Government in 1982 and Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1997.
His dedication to arts, culture, and music was exemplified through the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON), and the Akintola Williams Arboretum at the Nigerian Conservation Foundation headquarters was named in his honour.
Chief Akintola Williams left an enduring legacy, pioneering indigenous accounting excellence in Africa and contributing significantly to the nation’s economic development, leaving an indelible mark on the accounting profession.