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NSE, stockbrokers, others extol Akintola Williams virtues, adventurous spirit

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Akintola Williams


Encomiums poured forth, as capital market experts, led by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), yesterday, organised a birthday celebration and symbolic Closing Gong ceremony in honour of one of its founding fathers, and veteran of accounting profession in Nigeria, Chief Akintola Williams, who joined the prestigious league of centenarians last month.
   
The event, which held at the NSE House, had in attendance past presidents of the NSE, dealing members, friends and family of the celebrant. The Chairman of The Guardian Newspaper, Lady Maiden Ibru was also present at the occasion.
   
Speaking at the event, NSE Council President, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, said Pa Williams is the only surviving signatory to the original Memorandum and Articles of Association of NSE when it was founded on September 15, 1960.
 
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According to him, the Centenarian played a significant role in the incorporation of NSE, especially in assessing the promise and challenges associated with a new stock exchange in Nigeria during the period. He said: “As a member of the National Council of the Exchange, he contributed in no small measure to the growth of its listing portfolio, and established rules reducing barriers for companies to list on the Exchange.
   
“As the NSE continues to lead the advancement of the Nigerian capital market through inclusive products and services, we look back in gratitude to the contributions of visionary and patriotic icons like Pa. Williams.
 
“Williams’ personal record of accomplishments, demonstrate that excellence, when combined with integrity and hard work can fuel innovation, discovery and economic development.“He continued the trailblazing when he established Akintola Williams & Co., the first indigenous firm of Chartered Accountants in Nigeria, with offices in Ivory Coast and Cameroon.
 
He said his efforts, in collaboration with other professional accountants in the country, led to the founding of association of accountants in Nigeria.
   
“This body, the immediate predecessor of the present Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), was incorporated in 1960. Pa. Akintola Williams became the founding president of the Association.” He also commended Chief Williams for his pioneering and pace-setting roles as well as his efforts in laying a foundation for many institutions in the country.
 
The Chief Executive Officer of the NSE, Oscar Onyema, described Pa Williams as an icon whose life is worthy of emulation, and one spent on enabling businesses, and inspiring the younger generation to outstanding successes with integrity and patriotism.
   
“Today’s event presents a perfect opportunity for us to carry out three important things. The first is to recognise and celebrate with family and friends, which is a part of what we are doing here.“We are gathered as friends and colleagues to celebrate the legacy of Pa Williams, whom we are all proud to be associated with. The second opportunity Pa Williams’ birthday brings, is to reflect on his achievements and acknowledge the efforts that have brought him this far.
   
“Since becoming a household name in the accounting profession, he has resolutely served our nation at home and abroad, promoting best practices, deterring and defeating fears, and inspiring everyone in his circle to more responsibilities,” he said.
   
According to Onyema, Pa Williams’ birthday is also a chance to look ahead in keen anticipation of how his excellent works over the years will birth new possibilities in the accounting community.He added that his time and life presents a lot of opportunities for shared responsibilities to continue to build the institutions, as well as solve pertinent challenges as a people.“His legacy is such to be cherished, and carried forward, by all of us who are privileged to witness all his exploits.”
 
The doyen of stockbrokers and the Managing Director of Trust Yield Securities Limited, Rachidi Yusuf, lauded Pa Williams, and recalled: “Your contributions with other founders made it possible for the NSE to be what it is today. Without this, some of us that are feeding at the activities of the Nigerian capital market would probably be somewhere else.
   
“Therefore, we are very grateful to you for all you have done because that is what is sustaining us today, and because we are still very active on the NSE, and more and more children coming out of school are coming every year to join the NSE.     
   
“Stockbrokers say: my word is my bond, and you as Mr. Integrity set the tone for that because in your position as probably the only indigenous company at the time of the indigenisation policy, but for your integrity, the exercise could have ended up in private firms.
 
“But people like you stood firm and set up the code of ethics, and made it mandatory for officers who have a role to play in the exercise that as long as we operate in the capital market, we should not buy any of the shares that we are offering, and that set the tone for the integrity.”
   
Also speaking, Lady Ibru, who was given the honour to officiate the cutting of the birthday cake, said: “I would like to first of all thank God for Papa’s life. We were ready to have done this about two weeks ago; we were very scared but with what I see today, Papa is going to live another 10, 15 years, because I was actually watching him signing all the dots under Akintola, he signed through it.”
   
Responding, Pa Williams said: “I am indeed happy and proud to see the progress our project of nearly 60 years ago has made, and I look forward to the NSE future advancement with great deal of anticipation and hope.”
   
He continued: “Of course, the setting up of the Lagos Stock Exchange was not a purely public sector initiative at inception. There were private sector individuals involved with it from its very beginning.
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“My good friend, Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu, the business magnate, who became the pioneer president of the Exchange from 1963 to 1966, Sir Mobolaji Bank Anthony, Chief Doherty and myself. 
   
We invested our time, sweat, and resources in the project, a fact that should not be overlooked in the forthcoming demutualisation exercise. President, council members, and distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for assembling here today to celebrate my centenary.”
   
He recalled that the NSE council was inaugurated on September 15, 1960, while operations began officially on August 25, 1961 with 19 securities listed for trading. He added that operations were initially conducted at the Central Bank of Nigeria building with four firms; Inlaks, John Holt Investments, CT Bowring, and ICON (the Investment Company of Nigeria) as market dealers.
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