Akintola Williams was the first African to qualify as a chartered accountant in England.
Known as the “father of accounting in Nigeria”, Akintola Williams was born on 9 August 1919, making him 100 years old this month!
After completing his secondary education at CMS Grammar School, he won a UAC scholarship which made it possible for him to attend Yaba Higher College where he obtained a diploma in commerce. In 1944 he went to the University of London to study banking and finance where he graduated with a bachelor of commerce degree in 1946. In 1949, he was the first African to qualify as a chartered accountant in England. He was only 30 at the time.
“As you know, to train as a chartered accountant, you have to serve what was called articleship or apprenticeship and you couldn’t do that here; you had to go abroad,” he said in an interview with TheCable.
In 1950 he returned to Nigeria and served as an assessment officer at the Inland Revenue for two years. He resigned to start his own accounting firm, Akintola Williams and Co., which became the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa. The firm became a success and later merged with two other accounting firms to create Akintola Williams Deloitte, which we know today as Deloitte & Touche.
In 1960, Williams also played a leading role in establishing the Association of Accountants in Nigeria, which is aimed at training accountants. He also pioneered the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and was involved in establishing the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He is still actively involved in the market as an adviser to the operators.
Williams was a member and former chairman of the Federal Income Tax Appeal Commissioners, a member of the Coker Commission of Inquiry into the Statutory Corporations of the former Western Region of Nigeria, a member of the board of trustees of the Commonwealth Foundation, a former chairman of the Lagos state government revenue collection Pane, a founding chairman of the African Cancer Centre, a founding member of the Nigeria Conservation Foundation, a chairman of the Musical Society of Nigeria, as well as a founding chairman of International Lions Club District 404, among others.
In 1983, when he was 64, Williams retired. He started mentoring and encouraging the development and growth of other indigenous chartered accountancy firms.
In 1982 he was honoured by the Nigerian government with the Order of the Federal Republic and in 2001 he was honoured with the Commander of Federal Republic.
In 1996 he was appointed as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to the accountancy profession and for promotion of arts, culture, and music through the Musical Society of Nigeria.
In 2011, the Nigeria-Britain Association awarded William for his contribution to democracy and development.
Williams was married to Efuntiloye Mabel Williams, who died in 2009 at the age of 88, and had two children, Williams and Seni.
His has been a century well spent.