Please lend me your ears this new year's eve.

If anyone feels that Nigeria is working out quite well, let him or her close his or her ears. But before that, let me ask: Is Igbo working out well in Nigeria? If he or she still thinks, yes, then let the ears remain closed.

The greatest failure and on-going failing of the Igbo is not Biafra, as some would have you believe. The greatest failure of the Igbo is trying to make One Nigeria work. This is a futile task that started while Nigeria was still a British colony. Almost half a century, therefore, has been spent by the Igbo (save for the 3 years of Biafra) trying to build a truly One Nigeria--all to no avail.

The question today, therefore, is not (as is being demanded by some), Why and how Biafra? The question should be: Why One Nigeria, and how One Nigeria, given 5 decades of on-going failure? To those clamoring to be shown plans to actualize Biafra, we turn the question around: Show us your plans to make Nigeria truly one, truly safe and truly secure and really equitable to all, including the Igbo. And tell us how these plans are different, how they will yield a different result from our current experience.

Let me give you a scenario. The current President is from the West. The current Vice President is from the North. Executive power rests here (and we do know that the real power is wielded by the North behind the scene.). Assume a 5-year term: the current one I call Round 1.

Round 2: Next 5-year term. President--North. Vice President? Either West (huge outcry), or South-East. Igbo? Not on your life. Anyone but Igbo. You know the reasons--don't act so naive. And of course, the Igbo will acquiesce, as usual.

Round 3. Following 5 years. President--South? Only if the North agrees. Igbo? Don't count on it. Vice President--North, or ?

For the next 15 years, assuming one-termers, the Igbos will never hold the Presidency. If we assume 2 terms each, then there is a period of 30 years during which the Igbo cannot have the Presidency in this One Nigeria that we are building. Mercifully, some of us will not be around to witness this travesty and tragedy.

I can run other scenarios, but it's up to you to do your own exercise in this area.

Many frighten you by asserting that the actualization of Biafra is only by war, or would lead to war. I do not know anybody advocating war, except those (Igbo) arguing against Biafra. All serious parties speaking of Biafra actualization emphasize PEACEFUL means, and PEACEFUL means only. We know PEACE works: look at what Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished for CIVIL RIGHTS in the US, if not the entire world.

On the other hand, One Nigeria constantly wages war on the person, the persona, the personality, the psyche and spirit of the Igbo, on a daily basis.

Truly, the only war going on is happening because the Igbo are insisting on One Nigeria. Remember Kaduna? They call it a "riot." What a great misnomer! But it was war! The official accounts called the Northern combatants "young warriors," not religious fanatics, as some would have us believe. More Igbos were killed than all the US casualties from wars of Desert Storm, Kosovo, Bosnia, Panama, and Somalia combined! Igbos lost their lives simply because they are Igbos living in another part of One Nigeria. Igbos trying to escape were blocked and detained in the name of One Nigeria while nobody thought to protect them. Then, there were Igbos who actually died bravely fighting against overwhelming odds for their right to live anywhere in what they believed is One Nigeria. And innocent Northerners living in peace among their Igbo neighbors in Igboland were brutally and needlessly murdered in the name of retaliation, thereby bloodying our hands in the sight of God, and going against Igbo tradition of never hurting a peaceful guest regardless of the circumstance. Yes, Ndigbo: there is war going on, and it is not because of Biafra actualization!

The cause of that particular war? Sharia. The North showed no concern for One Nigeria when it implemented Sharia. In fact, the North was fully aware that this action could break up Nigeria. They didn't care. So who was out fighting to protect One Nigeria and getting killed? Who cared enough for One Nigeria to put up a bloody fight and die? The Federal Government? No way. Who, then? You guessed it--the Igbos. The Federal government did nothing--yes; Obasanjo stated that his government was waiting for a call for help from the State government as stipulated by the constitution. This is the kind of protection that One Nigeria affords Igbos willing to die for One Nigeria.

The North wanted Sharia and made it so. We want Biafra, and we shall have it so. We are not going to war with anybody. We are not going to kill anybody. We do not want war with anybody. We will dialogue with our colleagues from the other nations that make up Nigeria and work it all out. They can have their way, and we can have ours, too--in peace.

Fellow Igbo, I want to make certain that you CAN allow in your mind that PEACE is the only way to Biafra, and that Biafra is the right and the destiny of Ndigbo. When we can allow the PEACE-ONLY paradigm, we shall at last see the way and the means to Biafra actualization.

Do not bother to look for the alternative to Biafra: you are living it now. Whether you are out here in diaspora or are living in Okigwe, Igboland, or in any other part of Nigeria where you can still be tolerated for now. This is the alternative--it is real. It is not getting any better. We cannot roll back Sharia; we cannot erase the Kano war. This--living in One Nigeria--is the war!

Ndigbo, this new year, resolve to stop the war: resolve to stop fighting to keep Nigeria one. Instead, look to actualize Biafra in peace, and put your energy into this goal.

God's blessing is ours to have, if we want it. And we do want it.

Happy new year! Happy 2001 and beyond.

Oguchi Nkwocha, MD