Akintola Williams was born to the family of Ekundayo Williams, a lawyer and farmer, son of a wealthy businessman from Abeokuta, Z.A. Williams. His mother, one of the three wives of Ekundayo Williams was from the Fernandez family of Lagos. Williams is the half-brother of the late F.R.A. Williams (first Senior Advocate of Nigeria).
Born 9th August, 1919 in Lagos, the young Akintola started his formal education in 1928 at the Baptist Academy, Lagos and proceeded to the CMS Grammar School, Lagos for his secondary education. In 1939, he was admitted to the only tertiary institution then, Yaba Higher College(now Yaba College of Technology) where he studied commerce.
In 1944, he moved overseas in search of the proverbial golden fleece. He studied Accountancy in London and in 1949, he passed the finals of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. He thus became the first Nigerian and one of the first black Africans to qualify as a chartered accountant in the United Kingdom.
After qualifying as a chartered accountant, Williams took up paid employment with the Colonial office in London and was posted to Nigeria. He returned home 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. In March 1952, he established Akintola Williams and Company, the first indigenous firm of chartered accountants in Nigeria.
This decision was a bold one, as he left behind a high salaried job with benefits such as free accommodation for a post with no assurance of steady income and intense competition with established international firms. Demand grew as a result of the Companies Act of 1968, which required that companies operating in Nigeria formed locally incorporated subsidiaries and published audited annual accounts.
The drive in the early 70s to encourage indigenous ownership of businesses also increased demand. Through astute management the firm has grown in size and scope of services to become the largest professional services firm in Nigeria.
The firm started operations in Nigeria as then Akintola Williams & Co in 1952. Between April 1999 and May 2004, two mergers with existing accounting firms were consummated which resulted in its being the largest professional services firm in Nigeria with a staff of over 600. The firm adopted the business name “Akintola Williams Deloitte” on July 30, 2004. Akintola Williams Deloitte is the oldest indigenous firm in Nigeria.
His Public and Leadership Roles
Mr. Williams played a leading role in establishing the Association of Accountants in Nigeria (AAN) in 1960 with the goal of training accountants. He was the first President of the association.
- He was a founding member and first president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
- He was also involved in establishing the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and he is the only surviving signatory to the original Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) at the founding of the NSE in September 15, 1960.He served as a member of the committee set up by the Federal Government to carry out a feasibility study on the viability of establishing a stock exchange in Nigeria.
- Member of the Coker Commission of Inquiry into the statutory corporations of the former Western Region of Nigeria (1962),
- As a member of the National Council of the Exchange, he contributed in the growth of its listing portfolio and established rules reducing barriers for companies to list on the exchange.He remained actively involved with organizations into his old age.
- Founder and council member of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation.
- Chairman of the Federal Income Tax Appeal Commissioners (1958–68)
- Chairman of the Lagos State Government Revenue Collection Panel (1973)
- Member of the Board of Trustees of the Commonwealth Foundation (1966–1975)
- Chairman of the Public Service Review Panel to correct the anomalies in the Udoji Salary Review Commission (1975).
- Founder and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Musical Society of Nigeria.(MUSON)
In April 1997 Williams was appointed as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). Also In 1982 Williams was honoured by the Nigerian Government with the Order of Federal Republic (OFR) and Commander of Federal Republic (CFR) in 2001. For services to the accountancy profession and for promotion of arts, culture and music through the Musical Society of Nigeria ,the Akintola Williams Arboretum at the Nigerian Conservation Foundation headquarters in Lagos is named in his honour.
Compiled By: Fikayo Owoeye