by ‘Ifreke Inyang
There are about 500 Computer Forensics experts in the world. Nigeria’s Andrew Madaki, who is just in his mid-twenties is one of them. He is a Customer Advisor for British Sky Broadcasting Limited (Sky TV) in Cardiff, UK and also a partner/consultant for Decy-4 Technologies, an I.T Consultancy firm. He speaks to YNaija on what it means to be young and Nigerian. Excerpts:
Why did you decide to go into Computer Forensics?
To be honest, I never planned to go anywhere near Computer Forensics. In 2007, while serving in the National Youth Service Corp Scheme, I worked as a news reporter and a presenter with the Nigerian Television Authority, Osogbo (Osun State). It was there I saw an Ad in a national daily for a course in Information Security and Computer Crime. The name sounded ‘gen gen’ (all smart and major), so I made a mental note to apply for it. When I was ready to apply, they had changed the name of course to Computer Forensics. I wasn’t happy about this at all until I started the MSc.
Has it always been a passion for you?
No. I’m very random and I like challenges and so the fact that it seemed impossible motivated me to see if I will be able to get through with it.
Did you have anybody/people as role models?
Not really. I love watching crime series and geeky stuff so I thought the idea of being an ethical hacker- it sounded lush. Talking about role models, I think Will Smith is a good role model though.
Tell us a bit about your early years? Was there anything while growing up that might have influenced you subconsciously to go into Computer Forensics?
I had my first computer certificate when I was nine years old so I guess it laid the foundation for Computer Forensics. Also was the fact that I hated mathematics- computers and gadgets just made it all easier (innocent smile).
“I’m actually preparing to contest for House of Representatives in 2019.”
What’s your educational background like?
I have a Bsc in Sociology from Benue State University and an MSc in Computer Forensics from the University Of Glamorgan. I plan to start a PhD in Mobile forensics and cryptography.
How did you start off?
Very simple. I got a visa, paid my fees and came to Cardiff.
Was there any time you considered quitting?
There have been loads of times but being a Nigerian, quitting is not an option. I am a positive person and I really don’t believe life is about yes or no. You can work your way round stuff and it may pay off.
What would you say is the biggest risk you have taken in your career?
My dissertation was on ‘Ensuring Physical and Data security on mobile phones against theft’. There are not more than 500 professional computer forensics experts in the world and I went deeper into mobile forensics where there is little or no material in that field to research on. To cut the long story short, I made it.
What are some of the challenges you face in convincing clients about your abilities?
People want to hide information. And the fact that you can retrieve everything they have ever done on a device with storage capabilities make people scared of you because everyone has something to hide. The main challenge is the fact that I’m pretty young for what I know.
How has your professional experience been as a Nigerian working in the UK? Is competition stiff?
There are more opportunities for anybody in a country where he/she is a citizen. It’s harder here because citizens have more chances than you, especially with the recent recession whereas in Nigeria, you can get your hustle on. However the competition is not as stiff – your visa status is a bigger factor in my industry.
What role has the ‘Nigerian factor’ positively and negatively played in defining who you are today?
Well, let’s just say Abdulmuttalab and yahoo yahoo boys made it harder for us. Trust is a major issue and sadly, there are loads of Nigerians in the UK involved in shady lifestyles. We have the good ones though. The deportation statistics says it all.
How do you react to the high number of young people roaming the streets in search of jobs ,who have become frustrated in spite of their professional skills?
I think it is hard everywhere. Our leaders have priorities that baffle me. And some people just expect too much from the government as well. I believe in self employment.
What experience would you rather delete from history if you could?
I once had to repeat a class because I was careless but that prepared me for life. I still want to delete that year from my mind. No regrets.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing a family member. They can get very annoying but they mean the world to me!
If you had chosen a different career path, what would it have been?
I would be modeling, managing talents and writing professionally. I still do these things but on the side. I have a blog www.andytrueword.blogspot.com
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I’m actually preparing to contest for House of Representatives in 2019. I will also be an employer of many and retired.
Have you received any award or recognition yet?
If being part of the top and only seven students to graduate from a class of 30 (MSc Computer Forensics – University of Glamorgan 2009) counts, then yes. I had a couple of modeling awards when I was an undergraduate though.
What do you love most about Nigeria?
I completely love the food, the fun and fair taxes. I just love Nigeria. It is home.
What does being Young and Nigerian mean to you?
I believe being Young and Nigerian means being a voice. We are not exactly at the helms of affairs but we have a voice which we have been using lately. Being Young and Nigerian means hope to me.
Do you plan to relocate to Nigeria anytime soon?
Of course! I plan to come back home this year finally.