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Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(3), 36; doi:10.3390/socsci5030036

“I Collected Money, not a Bribe”: Strategic Ambiguity and the Dynamics of Corruption in Contemporary Nigeria

Department of Social Sciences, Media and Communications (Sociology Unit), College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, Brunel University London, Kingston Lane, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
Department of Sociological Studies, College of Social and Management Sciences, Tai Solarin University of Education, P.M.B. 2118, Ijebu-Ode 20253, Nigeria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Martin J. Bull
Received: 18 April 2016 / Revised: 25 July 2016 / Accepted: 26 July 2016 / Published: 1 August 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [222 KB, uploaded 1 August 2016]


This article explores the language of corruption in Nigeria. It uses Eisenberg’s Strategic Ambiguity concept to examine the extent to which Nigerian legislators and those who occupy the executive arm of the government employ ambiguous languages and actions to execute and defend corrupt practices, and how this institutionalizes the culture of corruption in contemporary Nigeria. The article further explores how ambiguous light punishment, outright non-punishment, state pardon of corrupt elites and the reward of corrupt elites with sensitive government appointments engender corruption in Nigeria. The article argues that while the elites engage in diverse corrupt practices and employ ambiguous words to defend their acts, the judiciary appears to defend rather than punish them. The paper discusses the implications of these findings, concluding that the war against corruption in Nigeria may not be effective, because as those who appear to be fighting corruption are themselves corrupt, the frameworks with which corruption is fought are strategically manipulated by the elites. View Full-Text
Keywords: anti-corruption; corruption; language of corruption; Nigeria; strategic ambiguity anti-corruption; corruption; language of corruption; Nigeria; strategic ambiguity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Dumbili, E.W.; Sofadekan, A. “I Collected Money, not a Bribe”: Strategic Ambiguity and the Dynamics of Corruption in Contemporary Nigeria. Soc. Sci. 2016, 5, 36.

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