Atiku, Abbas, Obaseki, Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun, ICAN, Others Mourn Akintola Williams

Atiku, Abbas, Obaseki, Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun, ICAN, Others Mourn Akintola Williams

Say it’s end of an era

James Sowole in Abeokuta, Chuks Okocha, Juliet Akoje in Abuja and Dike Onwuamaze in Lagos

Former Vice President and presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, Governors Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State were among prominent Nigerians who sent out condolences yesterday following the death of Nigeria’s doyen of accounting, Chief Akintola Williams.

In a press statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Musa Abdullahi Krishi, Abbas, while reacting to the demise of Williams yesterday at the age of 104 years, described him as Nigeria’s global star in the accounting profession, who shone bright across Africa and the world.

The speaker noted that the financial guru would be sorely missed at a time when Nigeria was navigating through a turbulent economic phase. He recalled how Williams broke several records and achieved many feats, including being Nigeria’s first chattered accountant.

Abbas also recalled how the late Williams established the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa, Akintola Williams & Co, in Lagos in 1952, and how he was part of the brains behind the establishment of the Association of Accountants in Nigeria in 1960, and became its pioneer president.

“As a founding member and pioneer President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Chief Akintola Williams distinguished himself as an accounting pillar,” the speaker added. He noted that the deceased was instrumental to the creation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Abbas urged the federal government and the umbrella bodies of accounting professionals to immortalise Williams, noting his immeasurable contributions to the development of Nigeria’s financial sector.

The late Williams was an elder brother to the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the late Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams, who lived between December 16, 1920 and March 26, 2005.

Abbas prayed for the repose of the soul of the late Williams.

Atiku also mourned the passing of the elder statesman and most senior accountant in Nigeria.

Atiku, in a condolence message by his media office yesterday, said, “The late Akintola Williams was not just the grandfather of accounting in Nigeria, his lifetime was a great lesson in moral uprightness.”

Atiku noted that Williams was a blessed man, “and that is even more manifest in the good, long life that he enjoyed till the prime age of 104.”

The former vice president condoled with the Williams family over the loss of a patriarch, praying that God would uphold the family at this peculiar moment.

 He also condoled with the people and government of Lagos State over the loss of an illustrious and towering personality.

On his part, Obaseki, in a statement, said he was “immensely saddened by the news of the passing of our elder statesman, an economic titan and the doyen of the accounting profession in Nigeria, Chief Akintola Williams”.

According to Obaseki, “Akintola Williams lived a long and fulfilled life, having made his mark as not only the first Nigerian to qualify as a chartered accountant but also led the envious legacy as one of Nigeria’s most accomplished professionals in the corporate world.

“A rare breed, Chief Williams played a key role as a nationalist, as he was a contemporary of key figures in Nigeria’s historical development, including Chief Obafemi Awolowo, fighting together for the independence of our dear nation and keeping on with the drive to see Nigeria lead the continent on different fronts.”

The governor continued, “Chief Williams, perhaps, made some of the most consequential contributions to the development of the Nigerian economy through his interventions in the setting up of the Nigeria Stock Exchange and ICAN.

“He was upright, intelligent and cosmopolitan, making enormous impact in the business community and in promoting probity and good governance.

“The business community has, indeed, lost a beacon and compass who provided light and direction to the Nigerian state.”

The governor further noted, “He will be remembered for his knack for excellence, his undying quest for truth and justice and an abiding commitment to the development of our dear nation.

“I commiserate with Seni, the Williams’ family, friends and associates and pray that God will grant all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. Adieu.”

Sanwo-Olu noted that Williams’ legacies could not be forgotten. In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, the governor said Akintola Williams’ record of service as an accountant of repute and a leader of remarkable achievements would remain indelible for generations to come.

He said the doyen of accounting in Nigeria brought many honours and pride to Nigeria and Africa, particularly, in the financial sector during his lifetime.

Sanwo-Olu said, “On behalf of the government and people of Lagos State, we celebrate the departure of a great legend and the doyen of accounting in Nigeria, Akintola Williams, who contributed his quota to the financial sector and the economy of Nigeria during his lifetime.

“I commiserate with his family, friends, associates and the entire accountants in Nigeria. I pray for the repose of the soul of the late Akintola Williams and that God grants the financial sector and the deceased family, friends and associates the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

Similarly, Abiodun described the passing of Williams as the end of an era.

The governor, in a statement he personally signed, eulogised the immeasurable contributions of the late accountant to the field of accountancy, saying his impacts in the profession would continue to be remembered and celebrated among generations of accountants in years to come.

He prayed for the repose of his soul and for the family and well-wishers to have the fortitude to bear the loss.

Abiodun stated, “On behalf of the government and the good people of Ogun State, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the family of the doyen of accounting, Late Chief Akintola Williams, who passed on to glory today.

“While we are going to miss his priceless contributions for over seven decades in the field of accounting, our solace lies in the profound legacies he left behind and his indelible footprints.

“May God Almighty rest his soul and continue to strengthen his family, numerous mentees and all his admirers all over the world.”

According to a retired Senior Partner at Deloitte Nigeria and Akintola Williams, Mr. Henry C. Manafa, the late Williams played a pivotal role in the establishment and growth of various economic and financial institutions in Nigeria.

Manafa said, “Throughout his career, Akintola Williams actively promoted transparency, accountability, and ethical business practices in Nigeria’s public and private sectors.”

Manafa added, “Akintola Williams’ dedication and contributions have played a significant role in shaping the accounting profession in Nigeria. He is often referred to as the father of modern accounting in the country.

“His pioneering efforts have inspired generations of accountants in Nigeria to pursue the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and excellence.

“Williams has received numerous awards and honours, including the Commander Federal Republic and CBE and various leadership positions in professional and business organisations.

“Today, Akintola Williams is hailed as a revered figure in the Nigerian accounting profession, with a legacy that continues to inspire aspiring accountants and professionals in the field. His contributions have not only shaped the accounting landscape but have also played a pivotal role in the economic development of Nigeria.”

The 59th President of ICAN, Dr. Innocent Okwuosa, said he received the news of Williams passing away with gratitude to God.

Okwuosa said, “Akintola Williams will be remembered as founding father of the ICAN and as the first indigenous chartered accountant in Nigeria and Africa.

“He was a man of high integrity, probity and accountability. He is the epitome of ICAN’s motto: Accuracy and Integrity. He made ICAN thick and will be missed by the accountancy profession.”

Speaking in a similar vein, one of Nigeria’s foremost retired permanent secretaries, Chief Philip Asiodu, described Williams as “a great pioneer amongst the Nigerian professionals and about the only one who established a very lasting company, the Akintola Williams and Co. When you compare his achievements in establishing a lasting accounting partnership his achievements are outstanding”.

Asiodu recalled that in 1975, when Nigeria wanted a firm to handle “all the incomes from crude oil companies and establish how much government took, how much the companies took and how much the importing companies took, it was his accounting firm that was appointed.”

He added that Williams was one of the professional Nigerians that guided the implementation of the first indigenisation exercise that transferred the ownership of some big businesses in the country to Nigerians. 

Asiodu said regarding Williams, “He was a very nice gentle man, extremely polite. I interacted with him in many spheres. He was one of the founding members of the Metropolitan Club, which I joined in 1976, and have related closely with him since then. He also took interest in environmental matters. May he rest in perfect peace.”

For Executive Chairman and Founder of Phillips Consulting Limited, Mr. Foluso Phillips, the late Akintola Williams was a model to imitate for establishing an accounting firm that endured and outlived him. 

Phillips said, “He was my role model. When I set up the Phillip Consulting he clearly was my role model. I actually told him that I am modelling myself after him and he smiled and said that I should be ‘very careful what you wished for’.

“Here is a man who set up an accounting practice and was able to create a succession. That for me is quite fundamental to the extent that the vision that I set for the Phillips Consulting is to create an organisation that can outlive me in line with what I have seen with Akintola Williams.” 

He also described the deceased as “very pragmatic and a gentle man to the core. I do not think anyone has ever seen him wearing an agbada. He was always on a suit. I even challenged him whether he owned one and he told me that he has no apology. He was a typical Englishman. 

“He is seldom known to be critical of the government. He just kept quiet and went on with his own business.” 

Similarly, President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Mr. Adesina Adebayo, said Williams was someone who actually propelled the accountancy profession in Nigeria and was instrumental in setting up the Metropolitan Club, the MUSON Centre, and ICAN.

Adebayo said, “There is no way you can talk about accounting profession in Nigeria without actually talking about Akintola Williams. His contribution is such that anybody that becomes a chartered accountant in Nigeria always looked up to him as he practised with integrity and honour.  

“He symbolises and stands as a person who is a brand ambassador of the accounting profession in Nigeria. And whatever profession that came out of accounting today (including taxation) is a fall out of the benefits of his pioneering work in accountancy profession. His legacy will forever be remembered.”

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