Adieu, Aremo Fola Awoboh-Pearse
Aremo Fola Awoboh-Pearse was a quintessential accounting professional and an embodiment of honesty, integrity and family values. With a ramrod and athletic figure, the Aremo of Lagos, lived a life of courage, dominating his spheres with a “can do” spirit. That he was an exemplary family man was obviously not in doubt, but his giant strides in the Accounting profession in Nigeria had all the telltale of a worthy colossus.
He joined the accounting firm, PKF, in 1965 and built a reputation that towered above his peers. He was recruited from England where he had a successful academic career and was first interviewed by the legendary Chartered Accountant, Mr. Akintola Williams.
The Aremo was appointed a Partner in 1969, becoming the first Nigerian to occupy the position. He became the Managing Partner in 1987, following the retirement of the last Expatriate Partner. During his headship, the firm grew exponentially, forging the local offices — Lagos, Kaduna, Jos and Kano — into one integrated entity.
He was chairman of PKF West Africa Region and served on the firm’s International Council where he contributed immensely to the body of accounting practice until his retirement in 1997. It was in recognition of these contributions that the PKF Nigeria Headquarters building in Lagos was commissioned in his honour.
Integrity was his watchword and anything short of that was fraud. He had written and spoken severally about the responsibility of Accountants in managing firms; how holding tenaciously to integrity would sustain the viability of companies.
Awoboh-Pearse’s ethical standing was an open book, and any suggestion of inducement in the course of his work was considered an insult. He was known to decline any audit engagement if any of the directors or promoters had integrity issue.
His honesty and integrity were sometimes perceived as stubbornness, with his penchant for taking tough decisions even in difficult times. Yet these virtues helped nurture the firm that he built.
I am one of the many professional accountants that passed through his tutelage and drew inspiration from his professionalism and commitment to ethical standards.
On hearing about Awoboh-Pearse’s death, I had a sober reflection on my relationship with him from the day he interviewed me for employment at PKF over 23 years ago.
I cannot fully imagine my career success without the mentoring of this great professional. I, like hundreds of my colleagues, owe him a debt of gratitude for making us the well-rounded professionals that we are today.
His service to humanity transcended the accounting profession. Among others, he was Chairman of the Tribunal of Enquiry for Lagos State Development and Property Corporation and Related Parastatals (1984), Chairman of the Committee appointed to review the Funding of Low and Medium Income Housing Programmes in Lagos State (1986), Chairman of Lagos State Water Corporation (1986 and 1987) and Member, Consultative Assembly on the Reform of Company Law.
He was a consummate athlete and arts connoisseur.
To the children and Pearse’ family, my partners, staff, my wife and I extend our heartfelt sympathy. We thank you for sharing this legendary man with us. We will forever cherish his contributions to PKF in Nigeria, PKF International and the Accounting profession in general.
• Akande is Senior Partner, PKF Nigeria.
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