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Pa Akintola Williams: Quantity, Quality, Longevity and Immortality, by Zekeri Idakwo

Pa Akintola Williams
Pa Akintola Williams
Pa Akintola Williams: Quantity, Quality, Longevity and Immortality, by Zekeri Idakwo

Pa Akintola Williams: Quantity, Quality, Longevity, and Immortality, by Zekeri Idakwo

Life is an interesting adventure. It is often said that it is difficult if not impossible to have everything. One has to always choose one and forfeit the other. They say you can’t have your cake and eat it. But in every rule, there are always exceptions.

These exceptions often happen to God’s anointed. Rules are broken for them. In their case, events and things no longer follow their natural courses. They follow the laid-down courses of these special people.

This legend has eaten his cake and eaten them repeatedly for decades. He has also had to keep the cake for so long.

American civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr., was killed at 41; the same fate befell his fellow activist, Malcolm X, at 39; the country’s 35th President, JF Kennedy, was brought down by the assassin’s bullet at 46; Reggae legend, Bob Marley, was killed by Melanoma (black tumor) at 36; while rap superstar, Tupac, died of gunshot wounds at 25.

These five unforgettable legends were some of the great men who have come and gone and who could be said to have eaten their cakes but couldn’t keep them. They achieved a lot within a very short time and they left the scene quite early. Many of them were even victims of their beliefs, their struggles, and the battles they dedicated their lives to fight.

In the case of Nigeria’s first indigenous chartered accountant and a pioneer of the profession in Africa, Pa Akintola Williams, he has had his cake, chewed it, digested it, and also kept it with him till he could no longer hold on and passed away on Monday at the age 104!

He lived long enough for us to say even if he had no impact on the sand of time, he had tried. He also had so much impact on the accountancy profession, Stock Exchange, business climate, civil service, arts, music and dance, etc. in this country for us to say his longevity was worth it and his staying power was a blessing to his family, Nigeria, and Africa.

Pa Williams was born on August 9, 1919, in Lagos to a prominent family of lawyers and merchants who originally hailed from Ogun state. He attended Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School and CMS Grammar School in Lagos, before proceeding to Yaba Higher College on a scholarship from the United Africa Company (UAC).

In 1944, he traveled to England to study accounting at the University of London, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1946. He qualified as a chartered accountant in England in 1949, becoming the first Nigerian and the first Sub-Saharan African to achieve this feat.

He returned to Nigeria in 1950 and joined the Inland Revenue Service as an assessment officer. In 1952, he left the civil service and established his firm, Akintola Williams & Co., in Lagos.

The firm was the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa and grew to become one of the largest and most respected professional services firms in Nigeria.

Williams was instrumental in founding the Association of Accountants of Nigeria (AAN) in 1960, which later became the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). He served as the first president of ICAN from 1960 to 1964.

He also played a key role in establishing the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1961 and served as its president from 1968 to 1970.

Williams was a visionary leader and philanthropist who contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria’s economy, education, culture, and society. He was involved in various civic and charitable organizations, such as the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON), the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), the Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria (SCFN), and the Akintola Williams Foundation (AWF).

He also supported several educational institutions, such as the University of Lagos, the University of Ibadan, and the Yaba College of Technology. He received numerous awards and honors for his outstanding achievements and service to humanity, including the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) from Nigeria in 1982, the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) from Britain in 1997, and honourary doctorates from several universities.

Williams was married to Mabel Efunroye Coker, a prominent educator and social activist who died in 2006. He is survived by his two children, Tokunbo and Seni, and his grandchildren.

He came from a family of trailblazers. He was the older brother of Frederick Rotimi Alade (FRA) Williams, QC, SAN, one of Nigeria’s greatest-ever lawyers.

Williams will be remembered as a trailblazer, a mentor, a patriot, and a legend who left an indelible mark on Nigeria’s history.

He did so much and he lived so long. He lived so long that his own younger brother, FRA, died in 2005 at the age of 84 and left him. The son of FRA, Ladi Williams, SAN, also died of Covid-19 in 2021 at the age of 74, and left his uncle behind.

Pa Williams will be greatly missed but will forever be celebrated by his family, friends, colleagues, mentees, admirers, and most importantly Nigerians in general. May his soul rest in peace.

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