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


  • Emeka W. Dumbili

    () (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)

  • Adedayo Sofadekan

    () (Department of Sociological Studies, College of Social and Management Sciences, Tai Solarin University of Education, P.M.B. 2118, Ijebu-Ode 20253, Nigeria)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Emeka W. Dumbili & Adedayo Sofadekan, 2016. "“I Collected Money, not a Bribe”: Strategic Ambiguity and the Dynamics of Corruption in Contemporary Nigeria," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(3), pages 1-14, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:5:y:2016:i:3:p:36-:d:75128

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel Agbiboa, 2012. "Between Corruption and Development: The Political Economy of State Robbery in Nigeria," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 108(3), pages 325-345, July.
    2. repec:taf:ctwqxx:v:30:y:2009:i:8:p:1529-1547 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:91:y:1997:i:01:p:108-120_23 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Enriqueta Aragonès & Zvika Neeman, 2000. "Strategic Ambiguity in Electoral Competition," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 12(2), pages 183-204, April.
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    More about this item


    anti-corruption; corruption; language of corruption; Nigeria; strategic ambiguity;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology
    • N - Economic History
    • P - Economic Systems
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


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