Franklin C.O. Coker was the first president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Alongside Akintola Williams his efforts saw the creation of both ICAN and The Association of National Accountants of Nigeria. Though not as revered as Williams what is most distinctive about Coker's career is the effort made and difficulties he overcame in the pursuit of his qualifications. From Lagos to Oxford and back his is an example of the infinite gains hard work and perseverance bring.
Early Life and Education
Franklin C.O. Coker was born in Lagos State on 30th January 1919. His primary education was at Olowogbowo Wesleyan School. Later in 1929 he proceeded to the Wesleyan Boys' High school, Lagos. When the Igbobi College was established in 1932, he transferred from the Wesleyan Boys' High School as one of the foundation students of the Igbobi College in Yaba where he completed his secondary school education. Upon graduation F.C.O. Coker began work at the Department of Customs and Excise (now the Nigeria Customs Administration). Later, Coker registered to study Commerce at the University of London. As there were no universities in Nigeria at that time those wanting to undertake degree courses had to do so via correspondence as external students of either the University of London or Durham University. In addition to his university correspondence he also took postal tutorials from Wolsey Hall, Oxford. Attaining the degree was difficult; progress was slow because of the poor state of the Nigerian postal service; this was exacerbated by the Second World War which broke out in 1939 and would rage on until 1945.
In order to assist those struggling to complete their studies a group of Nigerian and expatriate graduates set up the University Evening class at King's College, Lagos. Coker enrolled in these classes and through the help of those tutorials as well as Wolsey Hall correspondence course he sat for and passed the Intermediate degree of Bachelor of Commerce of London.
With the help of Akintola Williams, who by then had already made up his mind to study accountancy, Coker also settled on the same discipline. At that time both the Nigerian government and a number of institutions were awarding scholarships to Nigerians who wanted to study abroad. Looking to place more indigenes in its senior posts one of these institutions was the Lagos Town Council. Among the open positions was that of Municipal Treasurer. The job was for a trained accountant and with this in mind, Coker applied for and was awarded a scholarship to study at Oxford. In 1944 he began at Oxford where he studied under the City Treasurer of Oxford, Mr F.M. Walker. He would return to Nigeria in 1952 as a qualified Municipal Treasurer and Accountant with a Masters degree in Economics and a Diploma in Public Administration.
In 1953 following the retirement of Angus Macnab, Franklin Coker became the Lagos Town Council's Municipal Treasurer having served as the Deputy Municipal Treasurer. His title would change to City Treasurer following Lagos' reclassification as a city.
Alongside Akintola Williams, Franklin Coker played an integral role in the formation of The Association of National Accountants of Nigeria where he would serve as its second president. During his tenure the idea of a central body for all accountants in Nigeria had gained ground and the few qualified accountants in the country started working towards a central Institute of Accountants. This culminated in the establishment of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in 1965. Franklin Coker would act as its first president.
A Short History of the Accountancy Profession in Nigeria by Musliu Alibaba