Nigeria is a key player in the present struggle for global market control. No one buttresses this fact better than the director of Jack Ryan. No wonder Lukas Ettin positioned Nigeria at the centre of the final season of Jack Ryan. In this fourth season, the entire plot is woven around a triad of criminal gangs fighting to control the market flow of drugs and illicit business. The situation has degenerated to the point of jeopardizing the credibility of the CIA.
However, what is the rationale behind selecting Nigeria as the starting point for the final season of Clancy’s Ryan Odyssey? Another way to put this question would be, how does Nigeria fit into the storyline of Jack Ryan. The majority of the spectators will consider Nigeria as a secondary setting or simply an introduction of some secondary characters to widen the intrigue of the story.
Nonetheless, a thorough examination will strongly suggest that Tom Clancy’s incorporation of Nigeria into Jack Ryan is not solely a matter of broadening the narrative. Instead, it is a vital intrigue and the trigger for the conflict that guides the entire narrative. Therefore, rather than inquiring whether the connection between Nigeria and the Jack Ryan saga by Lukas Ettlin was enlarging Clancy’s narrative, it is more appropriate to inquire how Ettlin situates Nigeria at the forefront of a global financial conflict through the narrator’s perspective.
I understand that fans of Jack Ryan would have appreciated this latest intriguing political thriller, simply because of Jack Ryan’s taste for dangerous missions. Besides, since its debut in 2018, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan has consistently engaged fans in an emotional roller coaster. He has succeeded again in maintaining the highly thrilling tempo this season, true to himself. Furthermore, Dr. Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) is known for his ability to detect deadly hiding criminal plans and his dangerous attraction to outsmarting dangerous international crime organizations.
In this last season, the opening scene takes us to Lagos, intriguingly the Nigerian Capital territory of Jack Ryan. A mistake, one would say, but as all kin observers would understand, every scene in a narrative should have its raison d’être. And in the case of Jack Ryan, choosing Lagos as the political capital of Nigeria is essential in understanding the entire narrative.
A group of armed men dressed as CIA agents quietly entered the presidential villa and killed President Udoh without being challenged. And who else should be suspected, if not his political adversary, Ekon Ameh?
Fortunately, one of the perpetrators was apprehended, and the blame was firmly placed on the CIA, whose weapons and equipment were utilized by the execution squad. Back home, the CIA Director, Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel), was still awaiting her confirmation to the post. Founding himself between fighting to clear the CIA of the mess and retaining his position as the deputy director of the CIA, Jack Ryan resigned to follow the case to its final phase.
Intriguingly, all his investigation points back to the CIA. Therefore, he chose to follow the money, as it is commonly stated. After a series of perilous manoeuvres, he ultimately discovered that three distinct groups were involved in the battles to control the Nigerian seaport of Lagos. A Chinese criminal group, Triad, was interested in controlling the drug movement from Mexico through Lagos to Myanmar. It believed that the new president of Nigeria stood in its way, bent on reforming the national port system. Thus, a criminal organization within the CIA assisted in facilitating their project.
Curiously, the CIA director Wright, who knew little about Nigeria, needed help from someone with better knowledge of Nigeria, and Adebayo (Ade) Osoji (Okieriete Onaodowan) stood in that position. This promising political analyst, who is young, and has been an activist since childhood. He has gained significant influence by expressing his desire to see Nigeria rise again. The director Wright was unaware that Ade, whose father had died while fighting for Nigerian emancipation, was involved in the criminal organization.
But how did this incredible, ultrasophisticated criminal gang recruit Ade? When director Wright first met Ade, he impressed her. His candour, vast knowledge of the Nigerian political environment, and ability to foresee the possible ending of the entire scenario impressed the director. Without wasting time, she reached out for advice and travelled with him to Nigeria. Although he boasts about how Mammon missionaries saved his village and helped him move to the United States for studies, no one understood; they also introduced him to criminal gangs.
While all this is happening, the spectator will not ask the bigger question: what role might Nigeria play in the narrative? Why wasn’t it Benin, Togo, or even South Africa? Perhaps we should look at it from an economic perspective.
The four principal players in this game could potentially represent the protagonists of the contemporary struggle to control the future global market: China, Mexico, Nigeria, and the United States. Lagos, Myanmar, and Mexico represent the Triad circuits of criminal gangs. And who else is behind the game besides some influential United States politicians? To better understand Clancy’s plot development, it is necessary to retain that while the Silver Lotus Triad gang could be seen as a critical Chinese player in this economic battle, a corrupt govt agent stands for the US. Between this conflict, Nigeria and Mexico are situated. However, while the plot conflict occurred in Nigeria with the assassination of President Udo, the tension reached its climax with the attack on Jack and his team in Mexico, presenting Mexico as another essential plot setting.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the economic significance of the relationship between Mexico and the United States is not frequently mentioned in the discourse. However, Cork Gaines explains in an article in Business Insider how the pandemics have helped Mexico overtake China as the highest business partner with the US. He argues that the myth of globalization is facing countless setbacks, with nearshoring projects recently increasing (Gaines, 2023). In the aforementioned article, he also contends that Mexico has become imperative for Chinese enterprises, which tend to establish their operations within the borders of the United States.
In a similar vein, Nigeria is a strategically important nation situated on the African continent. Nigeria has recently become crucial in repositioning the global market, given its strategic position in the region and massive economic growth. According to a 2018 US Department of State report on the Integrated Country Strategy, “Nigeria is arguably the single most important strategic partner for the United States in sub-Saharan Africa. About one out of every six Africans resides in Nigeria, and its extensive diaspora spans the globe.” (United States Govt, 2018, 2). Nigeria is crucial to the United States for several reasons, including over a hundred thousand US citizens residing in Nigeria (ibid.)
Unsurprisingly, Africa is becoming the fastest urbanizing region on the planet, making it a battleground between the West and China. According to Elliott Smith, China has been positioned as a leading player in the infrastructure sector, as Africa boasted seven of the 20 fastest-growing economies in the world in 2017 (2019). Indeed, as Beijing positions itself between the West and the rest of the world, it becomes increasingly concerning for the United States and troublesome for Western policymakers. (Thomas P., 2022).
However, it should be noted that Nigeria, as the largest economy with a strategic location, holds a vital role in the ongoing trade conflict between the US and China. This is the point at which the control of the Nigerian Seaport becomes crucial in the narrative of the China-US conflict, as observed by Tom Clancy. Hence, to gain a more comprehensive comprehension of the significance of Nigeria in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, it is imperative to look beyond the underground fictional conflict and directly at the current conflict between China and the United States of America. Through this lens, the narrator’s long journey from Nigeria to Mexico through Myanmar and back to Washington makes a complete meaning.
Gaines, C. (2023, July 12). Mexico replaced China as America’s top trade buddy—And it shows how the global economy is rapidly transforming. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/us-mexico-china-trade-world-economy-changing-2023-7
Smith, E. (2019, October 9). The US-China trade rivalry is underway in Africa, and Washington is playing catch-up. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/09/the-us-china-trade-rivalry-is-underway-in-africa.html
Thomas P., S. (2022, December 7). 10 Things to Know about the U.S.-China Rivalry in Africa [Policy Analysis]. United States Institute of Peace. https://www.usip.org/publications/2022/12/10-things-know-about-us-china-rivalry-africa
United States Govt. (2018). Integrated Country Strategies—Nigeria. United States Department of States. https://2017-2021.state.gov/integrated-country-strategies/