Akintola Williams was Nigeria’s first chartered accountant and the founder of Africa’s first indigenous accounting firm. He is credited with pioneering Nigeria’s accounting profession and being instrumental in developing the country’s financial sector.
Born in 1919, in the UK, Williams began his education at Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School, Bankole Street, Apongbon, Lagos Island, Lagos, in the early 1930s. He continued to Yaba Higher College on a UAC scholarship, obtaining a diploma in commerce, according to The Punch Newspaper.
He subsequently traveled to England in 1944 to study Banking and Finance at the University of London. After graduating in 1946 with a Bachelor of Commerce, he continued his studies and qualified as a chartered accountant in England.
He became the first Nigerian to qualify as a chartered accountant, and in 1952, he founded the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa, Akintola Williams & Co, in Lagos. His firm expanded through mergers to become Deloitte & Touche, Nigeria’s biggest professional services organization.
What is more, he was also the founding member and first president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. Williams is also credited with playing a leading role in establishing the Association of Accountants in Nigeria in 1960 with the goal of training accountants. He subsequently became the first president of the association.
His role in the financial sector of Nigeria also saw him help in the establishment of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He played an important role in deepening the capital market by establishing rules that reduced the barriers for companies to list on the exchange.
Williams also held several public positions, including chairman of the Federal Income Tax Appeal Commissioners (1958-68), member of the Coker Commission of Inquiry, member of the Board of Trustees of the Commonwealth Foundation (1966-1975), and chairman of Lagos State Government revenue collection panel (1973), according to The Cable. In April 1997, he was honored by Queen Elizabeth with the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for promoting arts, culture and music.
Williams died on September 11, 2023, at the age of 104. According to the Press in Nigeria, he died at his house in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest commercial city.