Nigeria’s first indigenous Chartered Accountant, Akintola Williams, is dead.
His son who confirmed the development, said Akintola died on Monday morning at his Lagos residence. He was 104 years.
Born in Lagos on August 9, 1919, Akintola was the second son of T. Ekundayo Williams. Alongside his younger brother, Rotimi, who would go on to become one of Nigeria’s most famous lawyers.
His formal education began at 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.
As a student at Yaba Higher College, he was not interested in pursuing a career in accountancy: surveying was what had piqued his interest, but he found that he was unable to explore this avenue of learning because the College did not offer courses in surveying. Akintola then entertained the idea of studying actuarial science and was preparing to move to England in order to take the course when he met an expatriate named John Selby.
Selby was a chartered accountant working for the Inland Revenue Department in Lagos who counselled and convinced Williams to seriously consider a career in accountancy.
In 1944, Williams would leave Nigeria on a government scholarship for the United Kingdom in order to train as a chartered accountant.
The first few months in England were an ordeal for the young man as the Second World War raged on and racial prejudice reigned. Very few accountancy firms were willing to take on coloured articled clerks. After months of searching for a job, Williams joined the firm of Binder Hamlyn & Co. as an articled clerk.
In 1946 while serving his articles and studying for his accountancy examinations, he completed his degree in Commerce at the University of London. 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. With this achievement he became the first Nigerian chartered accountant.
Akintola returned to Nigeria in 1950 to take the post of Inspector of Taxes where he would work with John Selby, whose advice years earlier had prompted him to consider accountancy.
By May 1952, Akintola resigned to set up his accounting firm, Akintola Williams & Co., now Deloitte & Touche. It was the first indigenous firm of accountants in Nigeria.
Operating out of his home in Obalende, the firm managed to survive its early years through the patronage of highly successful Nigerian entrepreneurs such as Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Timothy Odutola, Sir Odumegu Ojukwu and Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony.
In October 1957, having grown steadily, Akintola Williams & Co. was able to admit its first partner: Charles Sankey. The firm would go from strength to strength, eventually becoming Nigeria’s largest professional services firm following two mergers between April 1999 and May 2004.
Through hard work and bold decision-making, the firm grew to become what is today the country’s largest accountancy firm, employing over 600 people under the name of Akintola Williams Deloitte.
Akintola pioneered Nigeria’s accounting profession and was instrumental in developing the country’s financial sector.
He was a founding member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and was president from 1963 to 1965. He was also a member of the National Board of Accountants and Auditors.
Williams received many awards and honours, including the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM). He was also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.