Chief Akintola Williams (9 August 1919 – 11 September 2023) was a monumental figure in the Nigerian accounting landscape. Not only was he the first Nigerian to become a chartered accountant, but he also had a lasting impact on the financial and public sectors in Nigeria. His educational journey began at Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School and culminated in becoming a chartered accountant in England. He played an instrumental role in founding the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
Early Life and Education
Born in 1919, Akintola hailed from a reputable family. His grandfather, Z. A. Williams, was a merchant prince from Abeokuta, while his father, Thomas Ekundayo Williams, was a clerk in the colonial service who later set up a legal practice in Lagos. Akintola was the older brother of Frederick Rotimi Williams, a distinguished lawyer, and Rev. James Kehinde Williams, a Christian minister.
Akintola started his educational journey at Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School in Lagos in the early 1930s. He then attended CMS Grammar School, Lagos, before moving to Yaba Higher College on a UAC scholarship. In 1944, he went to England to study at the University of London, graduating in 1946 with a Bachelor of Commerce. He qualified as a chartered accountant in England in 1949.
Upon his return to Nigeria in 1950, Williams joined the Inland Revenue as an assessment officer. In March 1952, he founded Akintola Williams & Co., the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa. The firm garnered clients like Nnamdi Azikiwe’s West African Pilot and K. O. Mbadiwe’s African Insurance Company, among others.
The first partner, Charles S. Sankey, was appointed in 1957, followed by Mr. Njoh Litumbe from Cameroon. The company expanded, opening branches in Port Harcourt, Enugu, and even in other African countries. By 1992, the firm had grown to 19 partners and 535 staff.
Public Roles and Honours
Williams played a crucial role in establishing the Association of Accountants in Nigeria in 1960 and was its first President. He was also a founding member and first president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. Besides, he was instrumental in setting up the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
He held various public sector positions, including Chairman of the Federal Income Tax Appeal Commissioners and member of the Coker Commission of Inquiry. He was honored by the Nigerian Government with the O.F. R. in 1982 and was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in April 1997.
Williams left an indelible mark on Nigeria’s financial landscape. His firm, Akintola Williams & Co., eventually merged with other firms to become Akintola Williams Deloitte, the largest professional services firm in Nigeria.
Chief Akintola Williams was a man of many firsts and a paragon of professional excellence. His contributions to the accounting profession and public service in Nigeria are unparalleled. His legacy continues to inspire generations of accountants and professionals in Nigeria and beyond.