Lagos—Pa Akintola Williams, the foremost Chartered Accountant in Nigeria, turns 103 today, 9 August 2022. He was born on 9 August 1919. That was after the end of World War 1.
In a past interview, he revealed the secrets of his long life:
“The secret of my longevity is moderation. In everything I do, I strive to be moderate, and I mean moderate, a little of this and a little of that – not too much. Whether it is what you eat, what you drink, or whatever you do, just be moderate and you will live a refreshing, strong, and fulfilling life.
“When you are excessive in your daily life activities, you lose a life and its fantastic quality. But when you keep it moderate, you will not only be in control but enjoy life abundantly.
“Also, you have to endeavor to live a simple life, avoid controversies, conflicts, over-ambition, just live a simple life and life will be your friend.
“Please always take enough rest. I always observe my siesta, sleep about eight hours every day, and generally have enough rest. Your body is your priceless possession, so, please do not abuse it, for if you do, you will lose it.
“And please, do not play with exercise – mental, physical, and spiritual. The three go hand in hand. I still do my studies and attend to professional matters referred to me.
“For once you stop exercising your brain, you die literally. I keep fit and I do not live a sedentary life.”
Pa Akintola Williams who granted this interview to Vanguard in 2011 when he turned 92 was the first Nigerian to qualify as a chartered accountant.
He began his education at Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School, Bankole street, Apongbon, Lagos Island, Lagos, in the early 1930s; the same primary school his late junior brother Chief Rotimi Williams attended.
His youngest brother Rev James Kehinde Williams was a pastor in the same church. Olowogbowo Methodist Church.
According to his biographers, his firm was founded in 1952, and later grew organically and through mergers to become the largest professional services firm in Nigeria by 2004.
Williams participated in founding the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. During their long career, he has received many honours.
According to Tom G. Forrest in the essay, The advance of African capital: the growth of Nigerian private enterprise, published in the book, International African Institute (1994), Akintola Williams grandfather, Z. A. Williams, was a merchant prince from Abeokuta and his father Thomas Ekundayo Williams was a clerk in the colonial service who set up a legal practice in Lagos after training in London, England.
Akintola was the older brother of Frederick Rotimi Williams, who later became a distinguished lawyer, and the late Rev. James Kehinde Williams, a Christian minister.
After his elementary studies at Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School, Lagos, Williams then attended the CMS Grammar School, Lagos.
He went on to Yaba Higher College on a UAC scholarship, obtaining a diploma in commerce. In 1944, he travelled to England where he studied at the University of London.
Studying Banking and Finance, he graduated in 1946 with a Bachelor of Commerce. He continued his studies and qualified as a chartered accountant in England in 1949.
According to Richard L. Sklar (2004), in the book, Nigerian Political Parties: Power in an Emergent African Nation, “Williams was one of the founders of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa society while in London, with Dr. Oni Akerele as president and Chief Obafemi Awolowo as Secretary.”
Williams played a leading role in establishing the Association of Accountants in Nigeria 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. He was also involved in establishing the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He remained actively involved with these organizations into his old age.
Public sector positions held by him include Chairman of the Federal Income Tax Appeal Commissioners (1958–68), member of the Coker Commission of Inquiry into the Statutory Corporations of the former Western Region of Nigeria (1962) and member of the board of Trustees of the Commonwealth Foundation (1966–1975),
Others are Chairman of the Lagos State Government Revenue Collection Panel (1973) and Chairman of the Public Service Review Panel to correct the anomalies in the Udoji Salary Review Commission (1975).
He was President of the Metropolitan Club in Victoria Island, Lagos, Founder and Council member of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation and Founder and chairman of the board of Trustees of the Musical Society of Nigeria.
In 1982, Williams was honoured by the Nigerian Government with the O.F. R. Following their retirement in 1983, Tom G. Forrest wrote that Williams threw himself into a project to establish a music centre and concert hall for the Music Society of Nigeria.
In April 1997, Williams was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. for services to the accountancy profession and 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. On 8 May 2011, the Nigeria-Britain Association presented awards to John Kufuor, past President of Ghana, and Akintola Williams, for their contributions to democracy and development in Africa.