Full Text of The Lecture, “Complacency: The Hidden Bane of Societal Underdevelopmentnt ” Delivered By Dr Bashir Mojeed-Sanni At The 30th Remembrance/Public Presentation of A Book In Honour of Late Alhaji Mojeed Sanni, Titled, “Mojeed Adeola Akanbi Sanni: The Human Carpenter” At Ikorodu Town Hall On Saturday, April 15, 2017.


Dr Bashir Mojeed-Sanni delivering lecture on the topic, ‘Human complacency, the bane of societal undervelopment’

My father is one of those you can refer to as ‘baba e’to to mo e’to’. He is a perfectionist to the core. As a perfectionist, he understands that to be successful (in all ramification) in life, you cannot afford to be complacent; you must continually improve not only yourself, you must improve your people – family, friends, co-worker, wife, husband, children, kinsmen and even your enemies. Yes, your enemies need improvement too. They need to improve to challenge you for further improvement.
To not be complacent, one must first understand what it means to be complacent. What is complacency?

Literarily, complacency is define as a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder (Cambridge Dictionary of English). It is a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger or trouble. Complacency simply means standing still. It entails maintaining status quo; doing the barest minimum; being contented with little when you can actually have more; it means punching below ones weight; it entails underutilization of resources; it entails misapplication of resources; it entails wastefulness of resources – energy and time. It also entails lacking a sense of urgency. It include inability and resistance to change and inability to delay gratification.

There are lots of feelings, emotions and state of mind that are synonymous with complacency. In fact, they are either a prelude to or aftermath of complacency. These include, but not limited to: smugness, self-satisfaction, self-approval, self-approbation, self-admiration, self-congratulation,  self-regard; gloating, triumph, pride; contentment; carelessness, slackness, laxness, laziness; self –content and unmanaged success. Complacency is almost always the product of success or perceived success. Complacency can live on long after great success has disappeared. It is often said that “success brings with it the danger of complacency”.

The dangerous and critical thing about complacency is its disguise. It does, often times, disguise as:
Having contentment and being grateful with what one has.
It can also disguise as being a gentle man/woman.
It can disguise as “not wanting to rock the boat” or wanting confrontation.
It can also dangerously disguise as stability and calm.
It can also, annoyingly, disguise as progress.
It presents itself, ironically, as false sense of urgency. (remember……OWO MI KUN)

Where many people mistake and believe that enormous, frenetic and frantic activities going on in and around them is a sense of real urgency. Don’t be deceived, trying to do many things at the same time does not necessary connote real urgency. In fact, it could be energy sapping and exhausting at best, and wasteful and reckless at worst. The unfortunate thing about complacency is that many people underestimate its power and its prevalence. Whereas, it is, in fact, all around us, including in places where people would feign ignorance, lie about it and deny its existence; even when it is glaring to them.
Complacency thrive in disguise and causes massive destruction to individuals and societies.

Complacency masquerades first ‘been content with the status quo’. No individual or society can ever overcome complacency so long as they are still satisfy with the status quo. When individuals and state leaders at all levels sees nothing wrong with their present state, they pay insufficient attention to wonderful new opportunities shrouded in risk and uncertainty. The real solution to the complacency problem is true sense of urgency. But to have a true sense of urgency, you first need to know, if indeed you have been complacent? The chances are you have been.

Are you always bothered about causes of problems, you shout “what a mess is this” “who did this to me” rather than see great opportunities in hazards? You are complacent.
As business man/woman, you are making profit in your business and you assume all is well and not making efforts to diversify and expand your business, you are complacent.

You are a local government chairman, you tarred a 1km road and spent another N500,000 to commission the road. You are complacent.

You are state or federal law maker, you move motion and pass laws, but don’t follow up on its implementation or review its impact after implementation, you are complacent.

You are teacher or university lecturer, and you don’t follow up after your students after graduation to know if they are doing well or not, you are complacent

You are the head of the family and there is feud, either covert or obvious, among family members and you don’t notice or solve it in time, you are complacent.

As a citizen, during elections period you opted to vote for a lesser evil amongst leading political parties, you did not consider voting the right and credible candidate from a less known political party. You are complacent.

As a politician, you would rather seek the blessing of party leader with millions of naira, rather than sell yourself and programme to the electorate. You are complacent.

Generally speaking, complacent people and nation are short sighted, they look inward, not out, and they miss what is essential for prosperity. On the other hand, when non-complacent people or nation see an opportunity or a problem of significance to their person and country, and others don’t see same, they only search for effective ways to get solution and needed information. They are determined to move and win, now, they simply do not waste time or add stress by engaging in irrelevant or business-as-usual activities. Complacency can be identified by considering the root of issues, what people think, what people feel and their behaviours.

The root of complacency is usually successes: real, or perceived wins, usually over a period of time. Complacent people think “I know what to do, and I do it”. Complacent people feel content with the status quo (and sometimes anxious of the unknown). Complacent people have an “Unchanging behaviours” they do same activities and have the same approach to issues all the time. They ignore the possibilities of new perspectives; they do whatever has been the norm in the past. Short to say, complacent people are same-same people!

As a nation we have been complacent all along, regardless that we might think otherwise. Our founding fathers laid the foundation for our complacency. They were merely contented with selling our natural resources to the highest bidder. They were selling cash crops to the western world without value addition. They were contented with the foreign exchange earned, with little attempt made to transform these raw materials to finished or semi-finished products. Rather they were using the foreign exchange earned in the sale of our natural resources to buy secondary products from the West. The story did not and has not changed much when we discovered the almighty black gold. In fact, it got worse to the point that we sell crude oil and import refined petroleum products, thereby obliterating all the gains from selling the crude oil.

Our complacency grew to the point that no one cares and monitors how the earnings from the sale of our crude oil are accounted for, to the point that a single individual could keep $9.8million cash to himself. In deed, our complacency knew no bounds.

We care no more about how state governors spend our taxes and federal allocations. We care no more if a civil servant is stealing government time and money. We care no more if our public schools are grounded as long as we can send our children to private schools.
As a nation, we are too complacent to the point that we don’t want to try something new, even when we know that what we are doing at present is neither ideal, ethical, moral nor fruitful. We would rather rationalize that “this is Naija menh!” that is how we do it.

We simply do not want to change. We relish the known, even if it is unpleasing, and abhors the unknown, even when it presents a new way of doing things. Unfortunately, for us as a nation, we live in an age when change is not just happening, it is accelerating with super high speed. New technologies alone can affect all organisations, even firms in old and matured industries.

Globalization has open new markets that need to be exploited, demand offices, requires new set of skills and knowledge, crave for creative and flexible employees and many more. Also, international and local politics has become more turbulent and dynamic that we cannot afford to be set in our old ways and thoughts, as new kind of leadership is springing up here and there. Hence, to beat complacency to a cessation, we must embrace change as quick as the present state of things no longer benefits the vast majority of the people. Many of our processes need to be made more effective and efficient. New work methods and products must be created. Organisations and businesses need to be reorganized to focus more on customers and growth.

As individuals, complacent people are too often afraid to try new things; they prefers to avoid confrontation; they fear rejection; they are afraid of uncertainty; they fear embarrassment; they are afraid of losing; they are in constant fear of isolation; and they have fear of themself. All these affects strategic thinking, hinder our ability to communicate, decrease overall performance, impair our judgment, inhibit growth, and stunt development.

If we avoid difficult or uncomfortable situations all the time, we can never confront and overcome our challenges and we can never move past them.

If we refuse to change as the world changes all around us, we would be caught flat-footed. If we inhibit learning and growth, we can never evolve and advance in life.

If we fall back on familiar choices and patterns at all times, we can never experience new ways and perspectives.

If all we do is react instinctively to situations, rather than thoroughly analyzing challenges and acting objectively, we won’t be able to truly solve problems. More importantly, if we try to change the world instead of changing ourselves and get fixated on the past, we can neither change our present nor effect our future.

Conclusively, ladies and gentlemen, complacency is not only a thought. It is very much a feeling. It is a feeling that a person has about his or her own behaviours, about what he or she needs to do or not do.
Therefore, it is possible for a complacent person to perceive an inadequate situation and yet be astonishingly do nothing, because he or she do not feel the problem(s) require changes in his or her own action.

A complacent person can sometimes be very creative in justifying their point of view.
They are the sort of people that always look for problems to solutions.

Hence a complacent person is often difficult to spot because they look rational, thoughtful and prudent. As such they and their feelings constitute a hidden cause to their own development at the first instance and cause of our collective development as a society.

Least that am accused of complacency myself, I hereby suggest that we all begin to learn to demonstrate a compulsive determination to move, and win, now.

We should start creating alert and fast-moving actions that are focused on important issues. We should relentlessly be launching needed initiatives or cooperating with the initiatives of others and pushing to achieve more ambitious goals despite the obstacles.

We should be trying to achieve progress each and every day, constantly purging our low-value and time wasting activities so that time is available for the real deal.

We must begin to inoculate ourselves against fear or failure and take every failure as a stepping-stone toward success and a potential game-winning comeback.

We must immunize ourselves against embarrassment by practicing putting oneself outside our comfort zones to increasingly large degrees.

We must counter worries surrounding losing control by knowing that we cannot control everything all of the time, we should rather step back, take a deep breath, and focus on what we can control.

We should learn to get over rejection, forget those who would say no to you and go after the ‘Yeses’ faster.

We should handle confrontation in a more civil way rather than avoiding it.
We should learn to handle change and uncertainty, we should not attempt to predict the future, as we cannot, but we can study our operating environment as they evolve and take shape. Then adapt and recalibrate our actions and responses accordingly.

In a nutshell, not being a complacent person is what the Yoruba’s refer to as “die omo okunrin, o to!”.

Speech delivered by Dr Bashir Aboaba Mojeed-Sanni, PhD (Cardiff) at the launching of the book, MAAS: The Human Carpenter” at Ikorodu Town Hall on Saturday, April 15th, 2017


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