Four years ago, on 9th August 2019, we celebrated Mr. Akintola Williams on this platform as he turned 100. And just last month, many of us – friends, family and well-wishers saw him as he marked 104 years on planet earth. The TV audience saw him making some moves with some assistance to show how happy he was by thanking God for keeping him till then.
Today, 11th September 2023, the great man has answered the home call – gone the way of all flesh.
The name Akintola Williams is synonymous with the Accounting profession.
Just as you would say go and DHL it for courier, Xerox it for photo copying or Google it for search, you can practically say Akintola Williams is Accounting and Accounting is Akintola Williams.
He is well recognized as the first African to qualify as a chartered accountant and the doyen of accountancy.
When you mention his name, the younger people seem to think only of the firm, Akintola Williams, Deloitte & Touche (known mainly now as Deloitte & Touche) but that big firm is the offspring of the man, Akintola Williams, a man whose integrity, charity and professionalism sing to high heavens.
Akintola Williams was born on 9th August 1919 and had his early education at Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School, Baptist Academy, CMS Grammar School and Yaba Higher College, all in Lagos before proceeding to the UK to study Commerce and Accounting.
In December 1949, Williams passed the final examinations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and was admitted as a member of the Institute early in 1950, thereby becoming the first Nigerian and African chartered accountant.
His younger brother was another doyen, this time of the legal profession – the late Chief Rotimi Williams – so his family was one of top performers and pioneers.
The firm, Akintola Williams & Co. was the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa and after merging with the Deloitte group, is one of the largest in the world.
Williams played a leading role in establishing the Association of Accountants in Nigeria in 1960, with the goal of training accountants. He was the first President of the association. He was also founding member and first president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, and he was involved in establishing the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
In 1982, the Nigerian Government honoured Williams with the National Honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and was also awarded ICAN’s first ever Gold Medal Merit Award in 1988. Queen Elizabeth II of England conferred the award of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) on him in 1997, in recognition of his services to the accountancy profession and the arts.
It is not only in accountancy and professional practice that Akintola Williams excelled or was a pioneer.
Following retirement in 1983, he helped to establish the Music Centre of the Music Society of Nigeria, MUSON.
His loving wife of many years, Efuntiloye Mabel Williams, passed on 14 years ago, but Akintola Williams soldiered on and continued to be a guiding light to Nigerians in the professions and in all walks of life as a man of integrity and honour.
May the soul of the great centenarian, Akintola Williams, rest in peace.
Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist writes about and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.