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Pa Akintola Williams died on Monday, September 11, 2023. He was Nigeria’s first indigenous chartered accountant. Williams has been credited for pioneering the accounting profession in Nigeria. He was instrumental in developing the country’s financial sector.

Skabash! joins the country in celebrating the extraordinary life of the late Akintola Williams with this tribute detailing the life and times of the iconic chartered accountant.

Akintola Williams biography

Pa Akintola Williams

Chief Akintola Williams was born on August 9, 1919, in Lagos State. He attended Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School, Lagos, in the early 1930s. Then he attended the CMS Grammar School, Lagos. Afterwards, Williams enrolled in Yaba Higher College on a UAC scholarship, where he graduated with a diploma in commerce. 

In 1944, Williams moved to England to study at the University of London. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Banking and Finance in 1946. Continuing his studies, he qualified as a chartered accountant in England in 1949, becoming the first indigenous Nigerian to do so.

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Akintola Williams career

Akintola Williams

In 1950, Williams returned to Nigeria and took up an appointment as an assessment officer at Inland Revenue, where he served until 1952. He left the civil service and founded Akintola Williams & Co. in Lagos, the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa. At the time, there were only five large foreign firms and fewer local firms that were certified but not chartered.

Through his company, Williams worked with notable indigenous companies like Nnamdi Azikiwe’s West African Pilot, K. O. Mbadiwe’s African Insurance Company, Fawehinmi Furniture and Ojukwu Transport. He also worked with state-owned corporations like the defunct Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, the Western Nigeria Development Corporation, the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation, the Nigerian Railway Corporation and the Nigerian Ports Authority.

In 1957, Charles S. Sankey was appointed the first partner of the firm. He was quickly followed by a Cameroonian, Njoh Litumbe, who went on to open branch offices in Port Harcourt and Enugu and later spearheaded overseas expansion. In 1964, a branch was opened in Cameroon and later on, in Côte d’Ivoire and Swaziland, and affiliates in Ghana, Egypt and Kenya. By March 1992, Akintola Williams & Co. had 19 partners and 535 staff.

In addition, Williams played a leading role in the establishment of the Association of Accountants in Nigeria in 1960, intending to train more accountants. He became the first president of the association. He was also a founding member and first president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. He was also heavily involved in establishing the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He continued to be active in these associations until his old age.

During this period, Williams was involved in public service. He was the 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), Chairman of the Lagos State Government Revenue Collection Panel (1973) and Chairman of the Public Service Review Panel to correct the anomalies in the Udoji Salary Review Commission (1975). Other positions he held include  President of the Metropolitan Club in Victoria Island, Lagos, Founder and Council member of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation and Founder and chairman of the board of Trustees of the Musical Society of Nigeria.

The Companies Act of 1968 was established which required that companies operating in Nigeria formed locally incorporated subsidiaries and published audited annual accounts. This meant that Williams’ company was busy. Williams himself served as a board member and major shareholder in some of these companies, including Chief Arthur Mbanefo’s AW Consultant Ltd. In 1982, he was honoured by the Nigerian Government with the O.F. R. He retired from his company in 1983.

After retirement, Williams became involved in establishing a music centre and concert hall for the Music Society of Nigeria. In April 1997, he was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to the accountancy profession and the promotion of arts, culture and music through the Musical Society of Nigeria. The Akintola Williams Arboretum at the Nigerian Conservation Foundation headquarters in Lagos is named in his honour. On 8 May 2011, both Williams and former Ghana president, John Kufour, were presented with awards for their contributions to democracy and development in Africa by the Nigeria-Britain Association.

Between April 1999 and May 2004, Akintola Williams & Co. merged with two other accounting firms to create Akintola Williams Deloitte (now known as Deloitte & Touche). The company became the largest professional services firm in Nigeria with over 600 staff members

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Akintola Williams’ net worth

Unverified reports estimate Williams’ net worth between $1 million to $5 million.

Akintola Williams family

Akintola Williams with his wife

Williams was the grandson of Z. A. Williams, a merchant prince from Abeokuta, in present-day Ogun State. His father, Thomas Ekundayo Williams, was a clerk in the colonial service who set up a legal practice in Lagos after training in London, England. Williams was the older brother of Frederick Rotimi Williams, a distinguished lawyer and the first Nigerian to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and the late Rev. James Kehinde Williams, a Christian minister.

Akintola Williams married Mabel Etuntiloye Coker in 1947, and they had children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Akintola Williams age

Williams was 104 years old at the time of his death.

Akintola Williams death

Williams died on 11 September 2023 at his residence in Lagos. Reacting to the development, Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun described his death as the “end of an era”.

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