Papa Akintola Williams was born on August 9th, 1919 in Lagos State, Nigeria to Thomas Ekundayo Williams, a clerk and legal practitioner from Abeokuta, Ogun State. His grandfather, Z.A. Williams, was a merchant prince. He is an Elder Statesman, Eminent Chartered Accountant and First President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
Akintola grew up alongside his brothers, Rotimi Williams, who would go on to become one of Nigeria’s most famous lawyers, and Rev. James Kehinde Williams, a Christian minister. Both are now late. Akintola began his formal education at Baptist Academy, Lagos, in 1927. At the end his secondary school education at CMS Grammar School in 1938, he went on to attend Yaba Higher College on a United African Company (UAC) scholarship from 1939 to 1941. At Yaba, he obtained 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. He 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.
In 1944, Williams left 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 whilst 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.
At the end of his studies, Williams secured a job with the Colonial office in London and was posted to Nigeria as an Inspector of Taxes. He returned home in 1950 and worked with John Selby, whose advice years earlier had prompted him to consider accountancy. In May 1952, he established Akintola Williams and Company, the first indigenous firm of chartered accountants in Nigeria.
His 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.
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 15th, 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.
Williams was a 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.
He was Founder and council member of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Chairman of the Federal Income Tax Appeal Commissioners (1958–1968), 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). He was Founder and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON).
In 1947, Akintola got married to Mabel Etuntiloye Coker. They are blessed with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In 1982 the Nigerian Government honoured Williams with the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR)
He was awarded ICAN’s first ever Gold Medal Merit Award in 1988.
In April 1997, Queen Elizabeth II conferred the title of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) on him in recognition of his services to the accountancy profession.
Happy 100th birthday sir. More grace and honour as you continue to enjoy the good of the Lord in the land of the living.